Thursday, 27 February 2014

Honeybus - Walking Aphrodisiac

Just thought I'd share this lost Honeybus song which Mark Frumento has recently uploaded to his YouTube channel. You can also hear this song and other rarities on Andrew Sandoval's Come To The Sunshine podcast, a two part 80 minute show with a spotlight on the Honeybus. You can download part 1 here and part 2 here. What a treat!!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bite It Deep Volume 20

The last mix for a while...

Rockin' Horse - Lonely Norman
Excelsior Spring - It
Bread - Easy Love
Hamlet - I Should Have Known
U (Don't) Know Who - Now And Again Rebecca
Amazing Blondel - Easy Come, Easy Go
Junior Campbell - Goodbye Baby Jane
Trane - Misty Lady
Klaatu - Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III (Original Vocal Mix)
Rain - You Take Me Higher
Harlan County - Almost Knew You
The Tremeloes - Hands Off
Pandamonium - I Am What I Am
Festival - Today
Mother Nature - Clear Blue Sky

Kensington Market - Said I Could Be Happy

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Zakatek - I Gotcha Now (1973)

On a trip to London earlier this year I dropped by one of the capital's oldest second hand record shops, On The Beat, just off the Tottenham Court Road. It's a good job I did because once in there, the owner, Tim told me that it was closing for good the following day. With that sad news in my head I figured I'd better spend as much time as I could in there. I've got a few OCD's and having to look through every single record in a shop is one of them. I have woken up many times in the middle of the night, sweating after having a nightmare about running out of time while looking through records. So with about three hours to go I began working my way through the racks of On The Beat looking for some lost pop gems.

In a section labelled "10cc Related" I picked out a single on Bell records by Zakatek which I'd never come across before. The fact that it was recorded at Strawberry Studios and engineered by Eric Stewart would have been enough to secure a sale but with the added appeal that it was written, arranged and produced by Lynsey De Paul made me cling on the record until I parted with my cash. Just in case!

Zakatek is Indian singer Lenny "The Voice" Zakatek (born Lenny du Platel) who had been touring around the UK and Europe since the mid-sixties in bands the Trailblazers and Funky Fever. It was during the early 1970's that he caught the attention of De Paul who took an interest in his voice, look and stage presence and in 1973 took him under her wing, penning each of the sides of both of his singles for Bell.

The first single, "I Gotcha Now" starts off with the distinctive piano work of Lynsey De Paul but turns into something more dark and psychedelic than anything she would record for herself. Driven by some of the meanest fuzz bass you could ever wish for and some sawing cello riffs, giving it a Walrus-like feel that Jeff Lynne was aiming for with Overture 10538. This tune wouldn't sound out of place on one of those excellent Mixed Up Minds compilations.

I'm quite surprised that a song this good has gone under the radar for so long, although it's probably due to it's rarity with copies not turning up too often. If you're hoping to get a copy off eBay, the most recent one sold in 2012 for £102!

The follow up single, "Get Your Gun" b/w "Gotta Runaway" for Bell records was again the work of Lynsey De Paul who contributed to both sides of the disc. It can be heard here on Robin Wills' fab Purepop blog.

The mid 1970's saw Zakatek join Gonzalez who hit big in 1979 with the disco classic, "I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet". He then went on to provide vocals for the Alan Parsons Project over a ten year period. Parsons produced the first Zakatek solo LP in 1979 for A&M records and judging by the clips on YouTube it's a bit of an AOR/Soul lost classic and one which I'll being keeping my eye out for when I'm record shopping.  Lenny Zakatek continues to perform to this day and although he may not have any hair left, he's still got "The Voice!".

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

M.J. Parker - Can I Find A Way (1972)

Mike (M.J.) Parker is another of those artists on which I have hit a brick wall trying to find any kind of information. Parker first came to my attention on the excellent Lord Of The Boot Sale blog, which featured his excellent single "Elodie" (also featured on my own Bite It Deep Mix Vol.19). I managed to pick up a copy of my own pretty cheap, a German pressing on the Columbia records label, complete with a picture sleeve with a very close up shot of Parker's mug! I was originally going to write a bit about the Elodie single but after a bit of googling, discovered another 45 for Columbia called "Can I Find A Way" which made it's way into my hands shortly after and to my delight turned out to be a prime cut of melodic McCartney-esque pop, kind of like a piano version of "Mother Nature's Son" (have a listen and you'll see what I mean!).

Both sides of the two singles are written, arranged and produced by the man himself and three of the four songs are fab, the exception being "Everybody Knows What Friends Are For" where he ditches his slinky smooth vocals and instead seems to be doing a bad Paul Rogers impersonation! Why?!?

Without any decent information on M.J. Parker I'm left assuming he was an Ed Welch character, someone who worked for the label and was given the chance to use some studio downtime and put out a couple of single of his own. The 45Cat website credits him on a further five singles for other artists...

Endaf Emlyn - Starshine* / Where Were You* - Parlophone (1972) as *composer/producer/arranger

Desmier - Handbags And Gladrags / Everyone Can Fall In Love* - Pye (1972) *as composer/arranger

Alison Jay - Mrs. President U.S.A. / Home To Oklahoma* - Pye (1972) *as composer/producer/arranger

Jackie Trent And Tony Hatch - Muddy Water / Something That You Do* - Columbia (1972) *as composer/arranger

Strange Fox - Rock And Roll Band / Tamarind Girl* - Parlophone (1973) *as producer

So, what happened to MJ Parker? He certainly had a knack for writing/arranging/producing and it seems odd that he only stuck around the music business for those two years, 1972 and 1973. Maybe someone out there is related to or knows him and can shed some light on the enigmatic songsmith.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Punch - Punch (1971)

I remember being a bit disappointed when I first listened the lone LP by Californian act, Punch. When I was in the the record store, holding it in my hands and scanning the sleeve for clues as to whether it would be a decent purchase, it seemed like a dead cert. It appeared to have all the ingredients of a classic lost pop album. Firstly, the band themselves consisted of two male and two female members (Steve Adler, Charles D. Merriam, Kathy Ward and Dee Steele) all providing the vocals ala the Mamas & Papas and each of them looking very hip in their groovy cowboy attire. Secondly, the session musician listed on the album includes some of the heavyweight LA players: Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborne (bass), Larry Knechtel, Jimmy Rowles, Bob Alcivar & Gary Illingworth (piano, organ, harpsichord) Zavier, Mike Deasy, Dennis Budimir, Fred Tackett & Mike Anthony (guitars). Thirdly, the label, A&M, had been churning out tonnes of easy listening, lightweight soft pop around this time, namely Paul Williams, The Carpenters, Boyce & Hart, Emitt Rhodes etc. Production duty was handled by Dayton Burr "Bones" Howe who produced most of the big hits for the Turtles, the Association and the 5th Dimension.

To be fair, it's not a total duff, but it's really only the inclusion of a couple of nice songs that has prevented me from filing this LP away and never listening to it again. The problem for me are the choice of covers versions that take up half of the album, which unlike the Mamas & Papas, are badly chosen ones. Luckily the album opener, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Why Don't You Write Me" is a real winner, sounding like it was written specifically for them. "Open Highway" is the other ace tune on the album, an original composition written by Merriam with lead vocals provided by Ward and Steele, which would have made a great choice for single rather than A&M's choice "Falling Lady" which has a bit too much of Adler's strained vocals for my liking. Some people will love this record, but I personally think it looks better than it sounds. A&M could have condensed it down to a killer single though!

Following the album, Punch recorded two singles, recorded for Bell records in 1972 before splitting and reforming in 1973, releasing a decent LP under the name Sonoma, with Dee Steele replaced by Tricia Johns and continued to perform their blend of harmony pop until finally splitting for good in 1976.