AM I GROOVIN’ YOU’ : THE PYE ANTHOLOGY THE FOUNDATIONS
I have been looking forward to sharing this release with you since receiving my copy some weeks back. This spanking new collection is released this Friday (12th) & at last does justice to one of the best loved pop/soul UK bands of the 60’s. Up until this release, getting your hands on a good compilation of The Foundations has been either expensive or elusive. Many have appeared on various labels, but the vast majority have been bad quality re-recordings that have little or no merit. At last the guys at Strawberry Records have put together a beautifully packaged 3 CD set in a handsome fold out digipack complete with a glossy 24 page informative booklet revealing the colourful history behind the band, a must read for any music fan. I was privileged to become friends with original lead singer Clem Curtis way back in 1969 & spent many happy hours in his company on various nights out at gigs or socialising at clubs over the years. Sadly Clem left us 5 years back in 2017 but he lives on through his musical legacy along with his bandmates in The Foundations. This new anthology spans 3 CD’s including all 3 albums & all the hit singles the band released through their hit tenure at Pye Records and also includes tracks from their 1969 ‘budget’ album for Pye’s ‘Marble Arch’ series of albums plus solo recordings from Clem. The whole package kicks off on Disc1 where you might expect with the bands debut single ‘Baby Now That I’ve Found You’ released in August 1967. Initially the record didn’t receive much airplay as the Pirate Radio glory days had come to an end with the Marine Offences Bill closing down all the main stations. It was the newly formed BBC’s Radio 1 launched as their answer to the enormously popular Radio Caroline & Radio London that picked up on BNTIFY & gave it heavy rotation, resulting in the first No 1 hit for a UK muti-raciial band. Disc1 continues with all 11 tracks that comprised the bands debut album 1967’s ‘From The Foundations’ which included numbers the band had been featuring in their live sets like their take on Joe Tex’s ‘Show Me’, a jazzy/lounge instrumental version of ‘Call Me’, later to become a vocal hit for labelmate Petula Clark and several more Tony Macualay compositions (who wrote the majority of their hits) such as ‘Mr Personality Man’ & ‘I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving’. The album tracks are followed by 6 bonus tracks including 3 big single hits with ‘Back On My Feet Again’ (my personal favourite), ‘Any Old Time You’re Lonely Or Sad’ & the worldwide smash No 2 ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’.Disc1 concludes with all the tracks from ‘From The Foundations’ repeated in their stereo versions, for those that like to hear these as a comparison, personally i prefer the original preceding mono versions, but to each their own. Either way Disc1 provides 28 fine tracks to enjoy. Disc2 contains the album ‘Diggin The Foundations’ plus bonus tracks. I’m not sure why Strawberry Records have decided to feature this album which was actually their 3rd album from 1969 on Disc2, but be that as it may, it’s great for me as the memories come flooding back as i listen to the guys. It kicks off with the title track of the compilation ‘Am I Groovin You’, a funky brass laden chug a long dance filler. It struck me that the opening riff sounds very like Steppenwolfs ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ which has only just occurred to me after all these years! This is followed by the guys take on a live favourite Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’ which i have to be honest is a song i have always heartily disliked no matter who it’s by, but hey that’s just me. I’m soon singing along again to the strains of ‘In The Bad Bad Old Days Before You Loved Me’ however, & wondering not for the first time how The Foundations are one of those bands that lift your spirits & put you in a good mood. Music may not be the universal panacea for all ills but it can certainly improve your day. There is more good feelings to be had with the likes of the bouncy ‘My Little Chickadee’ & ‘That Same Old Feeling’ which would become a big hit for Pickettywitch (also signed to Pye Records). Another familiar song is ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’ taken at a more uptempo pace than the hit Long John Baldry version. Included amongst the bonus 8 tracks are some more personal favourites in ‘Born To Live, Born To Die’ the bands last chart hit (No 46) from 1969, a song that most forget. Also there is the bands theme song to the ‘Swinging London’ film of ‘Take A Girl Like You’, one of the better films of the genre that came out in late 1969. There’s also the chance to compare lead singers with the inclusion of Colin Young’s vocal version of ‘Baby Now That I’ve Found You’. Colin had replaced Clem when after various differences Clem had quit the band in August 1968, Colin had joined in October just in time to record ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’. And finally we have Disc3 which contains 1968’s ‘Rocking The Foundations’ a ‘live’ album showcasing the boys in typical fashion singing and playing their hearts out to an obviously enthusiastic crowd, just like i remember, with a mixture of hits and favourite live numbers like ‘Stop Her On Sight’ which they had learned when supporting Edwin Starr in their early days. Indeed it was Edwin who advised Clem about ‘stage craft’ and how to ‘work’ an audience & i know Clem had great respect for him. There are 12 bonus tracks to savour on top of the 12 album tracks which include a great take on ’96 Tears’ & stereo versions of hit singles ‘Buttercup’, ‘Back On My Feet Again’ & ‘Any Old Time’. Half a dozen solo recordings made by Clem follow, which will probably be unfamiliar to most but I’m very grateful to have, especially a song called ‘Mountain Over The Hill’ i have always loved. The collection is completed by 2 numbers from the Colin Young led later incarnation of The New Foundations. As i said at the start of this review i am very grateful to finally have a great package of a band who brought so much happiness to millions of fans & the chance for me to relive some very precious memories. Enjoy.
Til next time….stay safe & well……Colin
Alan Esdaile… Agree with what you say Colin, that they lift your spirits & put you in a good mood.