Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Wake - Angelina (1969)

In 1969, five years before claiming the UK number one chart position with the Rubettes' "Sugar Baby Love", keyboard player/vocalist Bill Hurd was fronting psych/pop band The Wake. Also in the band were, John Edmunds (vocals, lead guitar, autoharp), Chris Weeks (bass, vocals, autoharp), Tony Miles (drums, percussion). The Wake were active from 1969 to 1971, releasing six singles (one on Pye and five on Carnaby records) and an LP of, progressive pop entitled "23:59", which I've heard and would be pretty disappointed if I'd just shelled out £200 for a copy.

For me, the best recording by the Wake is their first single, "Angelina", which is a pure pop gem of bouncy McCartney-esque piano that has always reminded me of "Care Of Cell 44" by the Zombies, but without the sinister twist in the lyrics. The songwriting is credited to Mark West (aka Radio Luxembourg DJ Mark Wesley) and Keith Bonser (later of hard rock outfit, Zior), who were also trying to achieve pop success at same time under the name "Cardboard Orchestra". The B-side "So Happy", written by Hurd, is a decent enough tune with some nice hooks and a fab acoustic guitar solo.
The following singles by the Wake are pleasant enough but nothing worth raving about or spending too much of your hard earned dosh on, with the exception of "Live Today Little Girl", comped on Mixed Up Minds Vol.1 and "Linda" which was featured on the Left and to the Back blog.

The Wake - Angelina

Early in the morning, 
Jump out of bed
Look out your window, 
Come on, you sleepy head

When I say those little words like "I Love You"
There's a look of sunshine in my eyes
Angelina waiting for them every day
Naughty girl, your sky blue eyes are giving you away

Tell me what you're gonna do now
Now that the morning is here
Looking like a new day
Acting in a strange way
Oh oh

Now it's the evening
Sun is nearly gone
Gliding for some moonlight
Come on and come along

Just a silly feeling
Etching on the ceiling

Good morning, morning, morning

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas!!!

Here's a little seasonal, popsike nugget to get you in the festive spirit, which, to my disappointment did not come anywhere in ITV's, Nations Favourite Christmas Songs!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Mother Nature (1971-1972)

The origins of hippy pop band Mother Nature, has had collectors puzzled for many years. Presumed by many, including myself for a long time to be a European act due to the songwriting credit,"Steepy Rojo". The band were actually British and their continental sounding name is made up from the forenames of the four band members, Steve Norchi (Bass), Pete Reynolds (Drums), Rod Copping (Guitar) and Jon Reeves (Guitar).

Despite their debut single's 1971 release date, the song was written back in 1968. Both sides of the 45, produced by David Hitchcock (Mellow Candle, Genesis, Caravan) are stoned, psychedelic pop of the highest order, ultra melodic but a few years behind the times. The A-side is reminiscent of the Moody Blues in their hippy prime, armed with a pure summer of love chorus, "Orange days and purple nights, flying pastel coloured kites, and the flowers in your hair, scent the evening air". This song would have been huge had it been released in 1967

The B-side "Where Did She Go" is even better and surprisingly, uncomped. It almost sounds like it was written purposely for a Fading Yellow compilation 40 years in the future. Despite any kind of promotion by records label, B&C, Anne Nightingale and Jimmy Young both gave the single some airplay on their shows on Radio One in the UK, but failed to secure a hit record. 

Steepy Rojo aka Mother Nature know where the grass is.
An attempt to record something more contemporary for their next single, this time on the Kingdom record label, resulted in another hippy ballad "Once There Was A Time", again sounding about 4 years out of date. This time with lyrics about the effects of pollution and pesticides, "Where is the sunshine, where are the fields and the grass and the woods and the trees?". The dazed look on the four band members faces on the French single's picture sleeve makes me think they knew exactly where the grass was! The flip side "Clear Blue Sky" has an inherent Crosby, Stills & Nash influence and is the most upbeat of their four officially released songs.

There was a privately released CD compilation called "Far Over And Booby Gravy" put out back in 2003 as Steepy Rojo, which collects three of the four released songs ("Where Did She Go" is missing for some reason) as well as 15 unreleased demos, a couple of which have turned up on my Bite It Deep mixes.

Just dig that guitar sound on Where Did She Go...

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Bite It Deep Volume 18

Another ultramelodicbeatlesqueharmonypopsikeadelic (c) mix for your listening pleasure...

Hot Dogs - Let Me Look At The Sun
Neil Harrison - This Is London
Price & Sheridan - Tracey Smith
Galahad - George & The Dragon
Ed Welch -  It's Another Beautiful Day
Orphan Egg - Mourning Electra
Driftwood - She's Still Alone
Hudson Brothers - America
Chris Rainbow - Solid State Brain
O.P.M.C. - Big Stage Actress
Trane - Mansion Of Cards
John Winfields - Whisper Who Dares
Gerry Morris - Sunlover
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - Margareta Lidman
Children - Maypole

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ed Welch - Clowns (1971)

Edward William "Ed" Welch was primarily a composer of television and stage music in the 1970's. As a student of classical music, Welch graduated in 1965 upon which he started his music career working for United Artists Music. In 1971, UA gave Welch the chance release his own solo record entitled "Clowns". With the help of Tom Paxton, who provided all the lyrical content, Welch put out this album full of great melodic pop moments, most of which wouldn't sound out of place on a Fading Yellow compilation.

I've only ever seen the one copy of Clowns, and that is my own, which I found at the London Olympia VIP Record Fair last month. When I picked it up my eyes must have been glowing, a guy stood next to me said, "You don't want that, mate. It's not very good!". I'll be the judge on that! I'd already heard the title track a while ago and that was enough to make me hand £15 over to the dealer. At the time of writing there are a few copies for sale on Discogs priced between £20 and £30.

Ed Welch 1971 -
a dead ringer for Michael Brown
Thanks to Welch's classical composition knowledge, the arrangements on the LP are of the highest standard reminding me of the orchestrated cuts on Colin Blunstone's debut solo record "One Year" also from 1971.
Players on the album include Cozy Powell (listed as Cosy!) on Drums, Mike Albuquerque (Electric Light Orchestra's bass player on their first three albums) on bass, Alan Gorrie (Forever More/Average White Band)on guitar and Jo Meek, Maria Popkievitch and Frank Aiello on backing vocals.  It was produced by Mike Albuquerque and engineered by Paul Holland at Central Sound Studios, London, UK.

Judging by the scarceness of the record, you could take an educated guess that the album didn't sell too well. Welch must have realised that he wasn't destined for the pop charts, instead he used his ear for a great melody to write music for television shows and music libraries. Most UK residents over the age of 25 will definitely know at least two of TV his compositions: music from the quiz shows Blockbusters and Catchphrase!

Another record which may be of interest, penned by Welch & Paxton from 1971 is "You'd Better Believe It" by Jo Meek, who provided backing vocals on the Clowns album. Nice tune.

Anyway, back to the album and my favourite song on it, the title track "Clowns". Dig...

Friday, 29 November 2013

John Winfields (1971-1972)

Like most record nerds, whenever I hear a good record, a really good record, I immediately have to know as much information about the artist as I can. Mainly I want to know if they've made any other good records. A bit of googling and a search around YouTube is usually enough to satisfy my curiosity. Occasionally I find out absolutely zilch about the artist and this is one of those occasions.

John Winfields - "Dave's not here, man"
Psych collectors might recognise the name John Winfields from his French only 1971 single, a killer double sider on Decca Records, "You Know, You Go" b/w "Whisper Who Dares", both absolute belters which you'd be forgiven for thinking they were from 1967 and British. It's always reminded me of the style of songs that George Harrison was writing around 66/67, very bendy, orchestrated pop with unusual melodies and mysterious lyrics. Neither sides were written by Winfields, instead by someone called Al Martin (zilch again!). I had a little theory that Winfields may have been from the UK due to the spelling of his forename (John not Jean) but you can pick up a little accent in "Whisper Who Dares" so for now we'll just assume he was French.

Recently, I found out that John Winfields released a follow up single for Decca in 1972. The much harder to come by "Look At Nature" b/w "Vera" found its way into my letterbox via some French website selling run of the mill singles (for very cheap). I know it sounds sad but I get genuinely excited when the postman delivers me such goodies. I think it's the possibility that you're entering unknown territory and that your expectations may be choked within five seconds of the needle touching the groove! Luckily for me, I'm quite open minded with music and where most people wouldn't give a Gilbert O'Sullivan-esque record more than a couple seconds on their turntable, I'll give it ten plays in a row and stick it on my pile of records to write about on this blog! That's what happened with this record. It's not a record that will be setting any mod/psych dancefloors alight but it will definitely please the fans of obscure Beatlesque pop

The a-side "Look At Nature" is a successful attempt at a solo John Lennon style piano/orchestrated pop tune. "Look at nature, look at the sky, look at the sun, how old is the wonderful world?" not quite as thought provoking as "Imagine" but with a nice tune carrying it along you can forgive such hippy dippy lyrics. On the flip side is "Vera", written again by Al Martin, an upbeat piano pop song, sounding very much like "Doubleback Alley" by the Rutles and a perfect example of the kind of music on this blog. The single also comes in a picture sleeve, showing Winfields to be about 19 years old and clearly intoxicated. Who was John Winfields? Where did he come from? Where did he go? Answers please...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Curtiss Mason - Monkberry Moon Delight (1971)

Monkberry Moon Delight is one of the best Paul McCartney album tracks and why he never chose to release it as a single is anyone's guess. Norman "Hurricane" Smith, recognised the potential in the song, recording and producing it for himself in 1971 shortly after the release of Macca's Ram LP. Smith used the pseudonym Curtiss Mason for the single release which is strange due to the fact that he was getting some pretty decent chart action under the Hurricane handle. The public weren't interested in neither Curtiss Mason nor his solo Beatle cover, thus leaving behind a killer version of what should have been a hit. Maybe Smith figured his raw vocal performance might have startled his granny devotees.
Hurricane out-casualing Wally
The b-side to this single, "Lot Of Lovin'" is a decent rocking tune, written by Wally Allen (aka Wally Waller), bass player from the Pretty Things. Allen also appears to providing the vocals on this song. You may be thinking what an odd couple a Pretty Thing and Hurricane Smith would make, but don't forget that Smith produced the Pretty's defining moment and UK psych classic SF Sorrow. There's no other reference on the world wide web of "Lot Of Lovin'" having any connection to the Pretty Things so I may have just made my first revelation. Most probably no one gives a toss!

Take it away Norm...

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Junipers' Euphonic Trolley EP Volume One

I hope nobody minds if I give my own band a little plug on here today. This blog usually focuses on music from the late sixties and early seventies, but just for today we're coming right up to date with the release of The Junipers' Euphonious Trolley EP Volume One. The plan is to release the more poppy songs in EP form between albums. This is our first one and features four of our catchiest songs with an emphasis on Beach Boys/Beatles inspired pop. If the music featured on this blog is your bag then you should go and give it a listen. Available from today as a download only. Thanks!

Track Listing:
And in My Dreams
Oh Gilbert (I Need Help)
Our Budgerigar (Is Addicted to Rasmalai)
Jenny Won't Ride the Roller Coaster

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Bite It Deep 2nd Birthday Mix

Has it really been two years already?

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 90 minute collection of forgotten pop gems. I hope you like.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Neil Harrison - All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go (1974)

Since finding out about this album about three years ago, I have been totally obsessed with getting my hands on a copy. Valued at £12 in the Record Collector Price Guide (good luck finding one for this price!) but regularly selling for three figures on eBay it is not a record that turns up very often and when it does, everyone it seems are fighting over it. After many disappointments being outbid over the last few years I finally got my very own copy. I literally jumped up and punched the air (very sad, I know), then I got a little nervous that it may not live up the expectations I had been building up for so long.

Neil Harrison if you didn't know, played John Lennon for 32 years in the Bootleg Beatles whom he now manages and are said by many to be the greatest Beatles tribute act. What is less know about Neil is that he released an album of his own material, years before in 1974 on Deram records. Here's the blurb from the LP insert, which sheds a lot of light on to what he was doing up to the point of the album's release...

"Neil Harrison is a talented singer/songwriter, he writes simple and unpretentious songs and sings them in an equally honest manner.

Neil Harrison circa 1974
Neil was born in December 1950 in West Kirby, Cheshire. His mother is a pianist at a dancing school, his father an accountant.

His educational years were spent at St. Bede's Boarding School, Cumberland where he obtained ten 'O' Levels, three 'A' Levels and a place at Liverpool University to read zoology. University life lasted two days for Neil, he realised very quickly he was not a zoologist.

His musical talents which had become his main interest, had been born during his school days. During holiday periods he taught himself to play acoustic guitar with Bert Wheedon's "Play In A Day" guitar tutor. He began to become frustrated by trying to express himself through the only medium he knew and loved - music.

After leaving university he worked at odd jobs and at the same time developed a songwriting relationship with Neil Alford. They wrote and sang songs together in and around Liverpool. Known as Driftwood they produced some demo tapes which they sent round to all the major record companies. Decca
stepped in and sent producer Pete Swetenham to Liverpool to see Driftwood, they were subsequently brought to London to make an album make an album which, unfortunately passed completely unnoticed by the public. Neil Harrison's frustration continued.

Neil remained in London, living and working as a van driver. The failure of his album had dampened his confidence considerably. He began to examine himself and the people around him, wanting to know how and why they behaved in certain ways and patterns.

He became interested in social interactions and relationships between people and what these things are based upon. Neil recorded his questions, answers and observations in his songs. His luck changed and once again after making a series of demo tapes Neil was signed to a publishing contract with Southern Music, who financed an album which, although not made available to the general public did bring Neil back to the attention of Decca, via producer Keith Whiting.

Neil's confidence has been restored, his honest unpretentious songs are to be released on the Deram label, on an album called 'ALL DRESSED UP AND NOWHERE TO GO' His view of the world and what he's learnt about people whilst living, struggling and growing up has been recorded as a sincere down to earth expression.

He is still extremely interested in sociology and is in fact taking an external degree in the subject at London University. If Neil's album is anything to go on, he should pass his finals with flying colours."

Neil as John Lennon
The album is didn't sell well, hence it's rarity and hence the fact that hardly anyone has heard of it. It would have made a nice addition to the recent edition of Shindig! magazine which highlights Beatleisms (how the fab four cast a shadow over the 1970's), a theme which runs throughout this blog.

The album sleeve sees Harrison already looking like Lennon circa 1967 with his little round spectacles and moustache. Musically, it sounds closer to Paul McCartney's mellower moments his first two solo albums and the Wings Wild Life LP than Lennon and vocally resembles George Harrison especially on "This Is London" which is a dead ringer for "Savoy Truffle". Lucky for Neil nobody heard it otherwise he'd have ended up in court with his namesake.

On the whole the album is a grand affair with plenty of orchestration and epic Beatlesque moments, some killer pedal steel provided by the dependable B.J. Cole and some tasteful splashes of Moog throughout the forty minutes of sophisticated singer/songwriter pop. For me, the stand out songs on the album are "I Need A Friend Like You", the most obvious Beatles-y, "Crisis Point", the most Abbey Road-y and "Sad Eyes", the most McCartney-y and the one that Decca fancied Harrison's chances with, releasing it as a single backed with "Bicycle Driver" in 1974. I've got another single from 1974 on Deram records "Eyes In The Back Of My Head" b/w "The Busker" which is pretty good also but not on par with the LP. Another single exists from 1972 on Spark records "Maybe I'm Lost Without You" b/w "I Get This Feeling With You", which I've not heard.

Has anybody out there got a copy of the Driftwood LP they would like to sell or share? I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

J. Vincent Edwards - I Can't Let Maggie Go (1974)

J. Vincent Edwards' music career began in 1962 when he was lead singer in a local Newcastle-Upon-Tyne band called The Invictors, before joining The Answers on drums/vocals in 1963 along with Tony Hill (Guitar), Bobby Calder (Bass) and Ronnie (no surname! Lead Guitar). The Answers defining moment would be their first of two singles, the freakbeat classic "Just A Fear" on Columbia records from 1966.

Following the demise of the Answers, Edwards briefly fronted his own soul band called Vincent Edwards' Present Tense and six months later he joined the Gates Of Eden although no recordings were made with either acts. In 1968, Edwards landed the part "Vince" in the hippie musical, Hair after auditioning for a part at the Shaftsbury Theatre in London. His first solo single "Hair" b/w "Aquarius" was released by United Artists in 1968 and the Original Cast Recording of the Hair soundtrack would reach number 2 in the UK charts, a career peak for Edwards.

Throughout the late 1960's and 1970's Vincent Edwards released many singles on various records labels without much success. The highlight of his seventies output has to be his take on the Honeybus classic, "I Can't Let Maggie Go" from 1974 on the Fontana record label. The song benefits from some funky drums, akin to the version on the Nimble bread advert and was produced by Honeybus's old manager, Terry Noon. The b-side "Dreamy Day" written and produced by Edwards, sounds like Rod Stewart circa 1973, not a killer song but has a nice sound and a fab Honeybus-esque guitar solo.

The single wasn't a massive hit but appears to be easy enough to track down. It sits proudly in my small collection of Honeybus related records, more of which will follow soon on this blog.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Bite It Deep Volume 17

One for the pop connoisseur...

Bite It Deep Mix Vol.17 by Bite It Deep on Mixcloud

U.S Males - Come Out Of The Rain
Chicory Tip - Friend Of Mine
Continental Uptight Band - Please Sing A Song For Us
ABBA - Santa Rosa
14 - Restless Feeling One Hour After Dinner
Marmalade - Laughing Man
Pony - My Baby's Back
Gerry Rafferty - Half A Chance
Muffin - Smokey Blues Away
Christie - Man Of Many Faces
Cross Country - Choir Boy
Paul Parrish - Pink Limousine
Mark Eric - Just Passing By
Flying Machine - Hey Llittle Girl
Mason - It's All Gone Wrong

Tony Hazzard - Paul McCartney

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bo' Flyers - So Young And In Love (1975)

I was flicking through a pile of 7" singles stamped "Ricky's Mobile Disco" on Leicester Market a few weeks ago when I found this single by a bunch of Bay City Rollers wannabes known as Bo' Flyers called "Do The Buster" on PYE Records. If you like bands like Kenny and Geordie then you'll most likely enjoy it, but it's not really my cuppa tea. It was the mention of Honeybus's Ray Cane as producer on the label which caught my eye and was the deal clincher, making me part with my £2. The flip side, "So Young And In Love", is  written by Cane also and is actually a re-write of "Fresher Than The Sweetness In Water" from the Honeybus's "Story" LP, one of my all time favourite records, from 1970.

It sounds to me as though Cane used the backing track from the Honeybus version, just replacing the vocals and adding some new lyrics and a real thin sounding guitar solo. It would be unfair to compare it to the original, which lets face it, is a stone cold classic, but it is pretty good and an unexpected find.

"Do The Buster" turned out to be a minor hit in the UK in 1975 and earned the band a coveted spot on Top Of The Pops. A follow up single was released the following year. "If Saturday Night Could Only Last Forever" was backed with another Cane composition, "17 Teenage Dream", both of which can be found on YouTube and are decent enough powerpop tunes with the emphasis being on the pop. According to 45cat, there is another single from 1975 called "Wishing You Well" b/w "Big Ship" again with Cane as producer and taking songwriting credit for the b-side. I'll definitely be looking out for a copy of both of these.

Bo' Flyers - So Young And In Love
(Ray Cane)

How could I know that everything would all come true
Being here alone with you
So young and in love

Soon it was clear nobody could take your place
when I saw your pretty face
So young and in love

Let me take you there
Let me sing my song
Let me take you there
Now that you're home where you belong, oooohh

Just as a light will help to shine the way ahead
I knew it all in what you said
So young and in love

Let me take you there
Let me sing my song
Let me take you there
Now that you're home where you belong, oooohh

Just as a light will help to shine the way ahead
I knew it all in what you said
So young and in love
Knew it all in what you said
We're young and in love

Won't you let me take you there
Won't you let me take you there
Won't you let me take you there

And for those who do not know it, here's Honeybus with the original...

Honeybus - Fresher Than The Sweetness In Water
(Ray Cane)

How could I know that everything would be so clear
As when I saw you standing here
Fresher than the sweetness in water

And just as a light will help to show the way ahead
I heard it all in what you said
You're fresher than the sweetness in water

Let me take you there
Let me sing my song
Now that you know you're where you belong, oooohh

What could I do? The thought was in your naughty head
I could have turned away instead
But what you got is sweeter than water

Let me take you there
Let me sing my song
Cause now I know you're where you belong, oooooh

What could I do? The thought was in your naughty head
I knew it all in what you said
That what you got is sweeter than water
I could have turned away instead
You're fresher than the sweetness in water

Won't you let me take you there
Won't you let me take you there
Won't you let me take you there

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hamlet - Hamlet (1973)

I was quite excited about hearing this album, having heard that this was the band that came after one of my favourite US Beatles-styled, sixties bands, Colours. Firstly, I made a bit of a boob with the postage, trying to save myself a dollar, I ended up waiting two months for it to arrive via international surface mail. When it finally arrived, still sealed (oh yes!) upon inspection I didn't recognise any of the names of the players on the record. Neither Gary Montgomery nor Jack Dalton's (Colours songwriters) names were to be seen. It turns out that Hamlet were formed out of the ashes of another band called Colours. These Colours were also from California although their album "Voluptuous Doom" remained unreleased for 40 years until US reissue label Frantic put it out in 2009. What I've heard of it sounds ok, but not the sort of thing I'd write about on this blog.

Hamlet were Bob Brien (Guitar, Vocals), Mark Cipolla (Bass, Keyboards, Vocals), Steve Parsons (Drums, Vocals) and Kurt Kearns (Guitar, Vocals). Their sole album was released in 1973 on Capitol Records and was produced and engineered by Charlie Dreyer. Despite not having the connection to Dalton & Montgomery's Colours, the Hamlet album ironically has it's share of Beatlesque/Badfingery moments.

Hamlet 1973 - (L-R Cipolla, Brien, Parsons, Kearns)

Side one opens with the McCartney-alike "Little You Say", a hooky, harmony filled singalong. A great way to start a record and an obvious choice of single, of which three were plucked from the album, none charting of course! "Jimmy Watts" is an ace piano pop tune about a performer who always turns up late to his shows, making excuses about having to look after his family and sounds much like Asylum Choir to me. "Bound To Redream You" and "Tonight" are pure powerpop of the Raspberries variety and "Garden of Girls" owes a debt to one of Eric Carmen's tender hearted moments. "I Should Have Known Better", not the Beatles song, is way too short at a mere one minute and thirteen seconds, but is a precursory of the later 70's powerpop sound that would be much more accepted by the masses. "Lazy Summer", another tune falling short of the two minute mark is unashamedly upbeat, a bit like a bouncy version of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Marrakesh Express". Side Two ends with the most obvious Beatles influence on the epic "Curtains", Hamlets own "Carry That Weight", some great drumming too for the long fade out.

I like this album more and more with each listen and I'm beginning to think of it as a bit of a lost classic. So, grab a copy for cheap while you still can, because I'm going to be spreading the word about this album!

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Cats - Magical Mystery Morning (Youtube)

Here's the video for the irresistibly melodic, "Magical Mystery Morning" by one of Holland's finest musical exports, The Cats. I'm working on a full write up about these in the near future. This one has got Fading Yellow written all over it and can be heard on my most recent Bite It Deep Mix Volume 16.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Bite It Deep Volume 16

Treat your ear holes to this...

The Flames - Streamliner
Colours - You're High
The Cats - Magical Mystery Morning
Picadilly Line - Rosemary's Bluebell Day
Aubrey Small - Trying To Find My Way
Cyan - Toby's Shop
The Tages - Just Like A Woman
Paul Williams - Born To Fly
Apple Core - Behind The Tear
The Association - A Funny Kind Of Songl
Matthew Fisher - Suzanne
Stackridge - Dangerous Bacon
Hollins Ferry - Too Bad About Sorrows
Rick Springfield - You Can Do It (if You Try)
Phil Cordell - If I Don't Get All The Luck

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bitter Almond - Silver (1970)

I bought this record about a year ago, probably mistaking it for the Almond Marzipan single after hours of flicking through piles of 45's. "In The Morning" b/w "Silver" is a great pop double sider and turns up very often, making me suspect it was a minor hit. Cheap too! Someone has made the effort to make a video on Youtube adding the a-side over black and white footage of a band that doesn't look like the Bitter Almond that appear on the German single's picture sleeve.

I've spent the last few days trying to find some info on Bitter Almond and got absolutely nowhere. Usually Google gives a few clues, but this time absolutely zilch! There was another single by a band called Bitter Almond, "Loving Each Other" b/w "We Need Someone". I've heard the latter song on Lost Jukebox Vol.178 and while it's an ace song, I'm not sure it is the same band. The German label states that it is a USA production but it sounds pure British to my ears. The songwriting is credited to A. Blake and B. Kretzchmar, whether they were member of the band is anyone's guess. Both sides were arranged by Tony Cox, who appears to be a bit of a freelance arranger, working with Barry Ryan, Toast, Jonathan King, Mick Softley and Yes for various record labels. The producer is down as Alfalfa, whose name has turned up just once, as a producer for a Phil Pickett single from 1971.

Bitter Almond (1970) Recognise any of these guys?

And that's about it! No real info this time but if anyone knows anything about Bitter Almond, who they were, what they did before/after please get in touch and update this post.

Here's what the enigmatic bunch sounded like...

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Hurricane Smith - Don't Let It Die (1972)

Norman 'Hurricane' Smith was a bit of a late bloomer in the pop music business and was the ripe old age of 49 years old when his debut album "Don't Let It Die" came out in 1972 on EMI/Columbia records. He had, however, been behind the scenes for many years previously. Having lied about his age and being granted an apprenticeship by EMI, he worked his way up the ranks, from tea boy to engineer to producer, working on some big, BIG recordings in the process, including the first six Beatles albums,  the first four by Pink Floyd and the Pretty Things' "S.F. Sorrow". Smith also worked with Barclay James Harvest, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Kevin Ayers, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas and Manfred Mann.

Being around such talent obviously rubbed off on Smith during the 1960's and it was then that he started to dabble with songwriting, possibly taking John Lennon seriously when he joked that the Beatles were short of songs during the Help! sessions, prompting him to write "Don't Let It Die". There's a clear Gilbert O'Sullivan influence in Smith's recordings, as well as the Beatles, mainly of the Paul McCartney Music Hall variety and if that's your bag, and you don't mind the heavily orchestrated arrangements, you'll love this album.

Hurricane wasn't hip and he never pretended to be so. Instead he stuck to what he was great at, writing and producing some real nice pop tunes that your gran would like, full of nostalgia and sentimentality. But in an odd way, it works and I find myself coming back to his first album for repeated listens.

In the liner notes for the album, Smith comes over as a pretty decent, humble kind of bloke, appreciative of the people in the business who have helped him and not afraid to poke fun at himself. The back of the LP sleeve also proudly states that Smith won a couple of Ivor Novello Awards (Best Song and Lyric) for "Don't Let It Die" in 1971-72...and there are pictures of them on there too, in case you don't believe him!

Smith died in 2008 aged 85. The previous year he released his memoir "John Lennon Called Me Normal" and attended Beatlefest in where he was interviewed, sharing stories about his time as an engineer for the Beatles. There's a clip of him talking about "She Loves You" taken from the Beatles Stories DVD here.

I'll leave the last words to Hurricane Smith with his explanation of "Auntie Vi's", my favourite track on the album...
"I got the idea for this song by looking back to my days as a young boy who hated being dressed up in a black velvet suit, to be taken out to Sunday tea. I don't infact have an Auntie Vi, but I think that Mother was probably a little too fat and furry! I hope you will forgive me making this point of philosophy in this song, but I never did agree with the upbringing of a child on the basis of a child being seen and not heard, because I think this could lead to an inhibited adult later on"

Hurricane Smith - Auntie Vi's

We all went round to Auntie Vi's for tea
Mum and Dad, Jimmy Lad and Me
And Mother had the usual things to say
That we should please be good today

She's all dressed up like a Persian Cat
When he's looking very fluffy but he's much too fat and furry
And dear old Dad in his best cravat
Couldn't go anywhere without his old brown hat, that derby
Bought in 1892

And after family greetings had begun
Couldn't miss the big wet kiss to come
And after jelly, cream and strawberry flan
We all just sat and grown up chat I couldn't understand

La da da da, La da da da
Da da da da da da da da
La da da da, La da da da
Da da da da da da da da

I know there's much to be grateful for
But going out to tea is such a great big bore on Sunday, boring Sunday
But I mustn't complain not a single word
Good little boys are only seen not heard on Sunday
Mothers' day of rest

The smoky open fire and old perfume
Special treat, once a week from ???
I couldn't wait 'til mother finally said
"Time for us to catch the bus
and home in time for bed!"

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Phil Cordell - Laughter In The Rain (1974)

I first heard Phil Cordell on the first volume of the Fading Yellow compilation series. "Red Lady", for me, was the stand out track on the CD and I proceeded to play it to death. Around that time I remember being disappointed that there was no accompanying LP from this era. I've been digging a little deeper into the musical career of Phil Cordell and recently discovered the Dan The Banjo Man album, which has some really great tunes and a couple of weeks ago took a chance on a single which he recorded in 1974 for Motown's Californian sub-label, Mowest. I knew I'd be happy with my purchase because I already loved the Neil Sedaka version of "Laughter In The Rain", but the Cordell version, despite a cheesy saxophone solo (not a fave instrument of mine!) absolutely pisses all over the original. The b-side is also a winner. "If I Don't Get All The Luck" a pure pop masterpiece, reminiscent of Honeybus, in particular Colin Hare whom Cordell's vocals uncannily resemble. There's even some of that trademark slide guitar on here too.

By 1974, Phil Cordell had been in the music business for over a decade. He cut his teeth playing guitar in Enfield band Steve Douglas & The Challengers around 1963 who allegedly made some recordings in Joe Meek's legendary studio as The Prophets, although none of these are known to exist. The band would evolve into Tuesday's Children and released three singles with five of the six sides written by Cordell, the most interesting being "Strange Light From The East", a song favoured by UK psych collectors which shows an early glimpse at his unique song-writing style. Cordell split from Tuesday's Children before they turned into heavy rock act Czar and released his first solo single, the aforementioned "Red Lady" in 1969. The single failed to chart and was followed by another flop record under the pseudonym of Beachcomber. "Surfin' Soul" was Cordell's first foray into guitar instrumental territory. 

1971 saw another name change, this time as Springwater and the release of "I Will Return" on Polydor records, a surprising and unlikely hit record, which caught the attention of the radio stations and record buying public who sent the multi tracked slide guitar instrumental into the the UK Charts for twelve weeks, peaking at number five. The record was also a hit in Europe and made number one spot in Switzerland. A Springwater album followed, consisting of similar instrumental tracks, which I have heard and have to admit doesn't do much for me, really. A couple more singles followed on Polydor, trying but failing to repeat the success of "I Will Return".

In July 1973, a single under his own name appeared on the Mowest label. "Close To You" b/w "Londonderry", both great pop ballads also featuring the welcome return of Cordell's pleasing vocals. Shortly after in August 1973 came another surprise hit "Dan The Banjo Man", as Dan The Banjo Man for Rare Earth records, a number one hit in the German charts thanks to it being used in an advert for orange juice! It was around this time that Cordell seemed to be leading a schizophrenic music career, releasing records, successfully, in a novelty instrumental style and in another, less successful more serious singer-songwriter style and I'm sure his heart would have been in the latter, but you've got to do what you've got to do to pay the bills.

An album of songs with vocals under the name of Phil Cordell entitled "Born Again" eventually hit the record stores sometime in 1977. A very polished production and consistently good all the way through and sounding like a cross between Pilot and ELO with a hint of West Coast AOR, well worth checking out. The album can be found tagged on the end of a CD reissue of the Springwater album on the Angel Air label.

Sadly Phil Cordell passed away in 2007. His legacy lays in these ace recordings from the 1960's & 1970's. It was nice to read the comments on the YouTube videos and see how people are fond of his songs.

...Anyway, that's enough of me yakking. Enjoy...

I've added a discography of solo Phil Cordell releases taken from various websites but put together as a complete list here for the first time. If you see any errors or anything I might have missed off, please let me know and I'll correct it. Thanks.

Phil Cordell
A: Pumping The Water
B: Red Lady
 (26 Aug 1969)

A: Surfin' Soul
B: Nothing To Say
 (19 Jun 1970)

A: I Will Return
B: Stone Cross
(Sep 1971)

Springwater S/T

A: Listen Everybody
B: Guiding Light
(14 Apr 1972)

A: Jerusalem
B: Amazing Grace
(11 Aug 1972)

Phil Cordell
A: Close To You
B: Londonderry
(20 Jul 1973)

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Dan The Banjo Man
B: Everything Will Rhyme
(3 Aug 1973)

Phil Cordell
A: Roadie For The Band
B: Twistin' And Jivin'
(28 Sep 1973)

Dan The Banjo Man - S/T 

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Black Magic
B: Londonderry
(31 May 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Laughter In The Rain
B: If I Don't Get All The Luck
(31 May 1974)

A: I Can't Let Maggie Go
B: This Time Around
(2 Aug 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Cool Clear Water
B: Everywhere I Go
(27 Sep 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Chevy Van
B: Stay With Me Baby
(9 May 1975)

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Red River Valley
B: Theme Of Love
(4 Jul 1975)

Phil Cordell - Born Again

Phil Cordell
A: Back In Your Arms Again
B: One Man Show
(12 Aug 1977)

Phil Cordell
A: Doin' The Best I Can
B: Cheatin' In The Dark
(7 Oct 1977)

Phil Cordell
A: Hearts On Fire
B: Ginny Was A Rock 'n' Roller
(27 Apr 1979)

Phil Cordell
A: Movie Star
B: Lying Down By The River
(Sep 1979)

A: Move A Little Closer
B: Rescue Me

Phil Cordell
A: Love How You Love Me
B: Tonight Tonight
(Jun 1981)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Euclid Beach Band - No Surf In Cleveland (YouTube)

The Euclid Beach Band were a bit like The Beach Boys own Rutles in a way. By trying to parody our fave Californians they actually struck gold with this tune about a band wanting to impress the girls on the beach but failing to do so because of the lack of waves! It became a regional hit and was the most played record on Cleveland radio in 1978 but failed to chart nationally.

The song and resulting album is well worthy of your ear holes and will please fans of the later work by the Beach Boys. They were produced by none other than Eric Carmen, who had written his fair share of Beach Boys style songs with the Raspberries. Members of the EBB had previously backed Carmen on his first solo LP.

Here's a rare video of an old news report about the single...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bite It Deep Volume 15

Grab a shovel and dig this...

The Iveys - No Escaping Your Love
Mungo Jerry - My Girl And Me
White Witch - You'r The One
Darien Spirit - It Isn't What You Know
Chad & Jeremy - Good Morning Sunrise
Steepy Rojo - My Yesterdays
Morning - Easy Keeper
Stained Glass - Mediocre Me
Canterbury Music Festival - Mr. Snail
Turner & Kirwan of Wexford - Warts 'n All
Watts - Betsy Ballou
Dan The Banjo Man - The Locomotion
Mark Wirtz - Feeling Better
The Robbs - Next Time You See Me
Buckwheat - Pure Buckwheat Honey

Friday, 9 August 2013

Watts - Girl You Make It Easy (1973)

Here's a great obscure record which follows on nicely from my last post about Claggers. Most likely another studio creation by Kaplan Kaye who is credited as songwriter and producer (and it's definitely him singing) for this one off single on Dick James' Jam record label under the name of Watts.

The first few bars that kick off  "Girl You Make It Easy" will have you thinking that you're listening to some psychedelic/prog/glam hybrid thanks to some tasty synth action and eery backwards echo on the vocals, much like Umber Rag by Claggers. It quickly shifts into a killer piano pop tune, exactly the sort of sound that Macca was going for (six months later, I might add!) with Wings on the Band On The Run LP. This song won me over instantly when I heard it on the Mixed Up Minds Vol.6 and desperately had to get a copy of my own so I could write about it on this blog.

A vinyl copy of the single was easy to track down, I got mine on eBay for the bargain price of £5, which is surprising really considering that the B-side is also a great track. "Betsy Ballou" is prime power pop of the Badfinger variety. You could stick it anywhere on Magic Christian Music and it wouldn't sound out of place, and the vocals sound uncannily like Tom Evans. I've got it earmarked for the next Bite It Deep mix volume 15.

So what we have here is a killer double sider, still cheap and easy to get hold of. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Claggers - Chumley's Laughing Gear (1971)

Chumley's Laughing Gear by Claggers is an obscure little pop album which appears to have slipped under the radar of both the Tapestry Of Delights and Galactic Ramble, neither is it listed in the Record Collector Price Guide 2014. I bought a copy of the LP a few months back on the strength of the outstanding single "Someone" b/w "Umber Rag" (which can be heard on BID Vol.13 if you're interested). 

When the record arrived in the post the first thing that struck me was the hideous and slightly euro proggish sleeve which depicts the band as Jack in the boxes, but to be fair, they probably didn't have a huge budget for artwork, or promotion for that matter hence the album bombing and being virtually ignored ever since.

It turns out that Claggers were not really a proper band but more of a studio creation of four backroom boys working for DJM records at the time and on the back of the LP under their names where you would normally see what instruments the members play you instead get their day job titles: Stuart Epps (Record Producer), Kaplan Kaye (A and R Man), Clive Franks (Chief Recording Engineer) and Jeff Titmus (Recording Engineer), smaller print indicates their musician roles as Vocalist, Pianist/Vocalist, Guitarist and Drummer respectively. They're also joined by Caleb Quaye on a few tracks and it was him who you have to thank for their dodgy name!

L-R Clive Franks, Stuart Epps, Kaplan Kaye, Jeff Titmus
The album was recorded during studio downtime, unbeknownst to Dick James who one day caught the band  in the act and luckily for them, liked what he heard. Rightly so as there are some remarkably well written pop songs on the record, which unsurprisingly sounds quite like Elton John in places. "Eric Is Calling" is a dead ringer for "Bad Side Of The Moon" and that's not a bad thing! The album is not a masterpiece by any means but I'm honouring it in this blog as it seems to have been cold shouldered by collectors despite a handful of ace tunes to it's name...and here's one of them...dig!!!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Newmens - A Million Tears (1972)

If you've listened to my Bite It Deep Mix Vol.13 you will have heard a great, melodic soft pop tune by the Newmens called "What Ya Doin' Down There?". I found this single on Leicester Market a couple of months ago, amongst some less interesting seven inch singles. I liked this single so much that I stuck it on my pile of records that I was considering featuring on this blog. A quick search on 45cat showed me that the Newmens had another single release, also from 1972 prior to the previously mentioned one. I tracked a demo copy down (stock copies are most probably much scarcer), again on eBay for the book price of £5, which after hearing it I reckon is a total steal.

A lot of these early seventies singles I feel are neglected/passed on mainly because of the date they were released by the sixties purists but the sound on a lot of these records could easily pass off as the late sixties. The Newmens on both of their singles are a few years behind the times and sound like the Byrds before they went country. Some great vocal harmonies and interesting sound effects adding colour to the ultra melodic vibes. I'm always on the lookout for nuggets like these!

Anyone got a photo of The Newmens?
One thing I know is that the internet doesn't know everything, and although there is no mention anywhere of an album by the Newmens, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something exists somewhere, maybe more songs, maybe some demos, who knows. The facts that I've got are that this band left behind two brilliant singles that deserve your attention.

Here is the only bit of decent info I can find on the Newmens, taken from the liner notes of the Fairy Tales Can Come True vol.3 compilation...

The Newmen (why Parlophone added an ‘s’ I’m not sure) were a popular showband from Antrim in Northern Ireland. Our track was written by Barry Woods, a former member of the Belfast band Clubsound, who were previously named The Monarchs. Back then they included a pre-Them Van Morrison on sax. Anyway, Woods joined the Newmen in the early seventies, and then moved on to a prog/pop band called Chips. However, recently he was back playing with Clubsound, who, as of 2005, had a weekly residency at a hotel in Ballymena!