SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing Jimmy Helms & All About The Girls.


GONNA MAKE YOU AN OFFER…The Complete Cube Recordings 1972-1975.  Jimmy Helms

Its March 1973 and the top three chart positions are filled by Slade, T.Rex and The Faces and we are deep into the Glam Rock era. Then appearing from nowhere is Jimmy with the sublime ‘Gonna Make You An Offer’ up there at number eight. Tragically (in my view) the only ‘hit’ he attained. I say tragically because the mans voice deserves to be heard so much more, and not be just a ‘one hit wonder’. This compilation pulls together all his work for Fly/Cube for the first time and brims with that incredible four octave range. Kicking off with ‘So Long Love’ (his first single) which should have fared much better the Gospel roots Jimmy came from are there in spine tingling form, a great opener. Track three the title track is naturally THE song for which he’ll always be remembered and needs no introduction. The Follow up to GMYAO was ‘Jack Horners Holiday’ which, until listening to this comp some forty odd years later I had largely forgotten. In the same vein as GMYAO (im sure his record company made it so deliberately) should have cemented his chart success but no. However of course hit singles are not the be all and the remaining fifteen tracks (including two previously unreleased) ooze soul with a capital ‘S’. Jimmys take on The Drifters ‘Like Sister and Brother’ is a real gem and Stevie Wonders ‘Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer’ gets a treatment that’s more impassioned than the original and I don’t say that lightly. It’s no ‘covers’ album though Jimmy contributes nine songs proving his talent as a songwriter as well as a hugely unique vocalist. Im very happy this new comp has seen the light of day, if you’ve got an ounce of soul in your body, you’ll be happy too. Enjoy!

ALL ABOUT THE GIRLS (Lost Girl Group Gems of The 1960’s) Various Artists.

Ive always been partial to this genre, who isn’t? The Ronettes, The Crystals, Shangri-Las all featured in my life as a backdrop to growing up in the 60’s.
Well, of course the title of this album does what it says on the tin and gives us 24 tracks of the hundreds of girls trying for their place up there with the aforementioned premier league. That doesn’t mean this comp is second league, there is much to enjoy. I love the two and a half minute vignettes of soap opera’s love lost, love found, girl meets boy, girl breaks up…well you get the picture…The titles of the songs say it all! Daddy Daddy (Gotta Get a Phone in My Room), Its Murder for Roberta, Hard Guy To Please, Poor Little Puppet, Bobby is My Hobby and Popeye Does the Mashed Potatoes!! Priceless! Cod Motown, Doo Wop, Sha la la and doo langs abound. If you ever stood in front of the mirror (girls) with a hairbrush miming this is your album! Lots of fun from an innocent era, sadly lost.

For more information go to colin-head-111x150

Til next time…..Colin

Mick O’Dowd… What a voice!

Tony May… Jimmy went on of course to be a part of the group LONDONBEAT and you can hear more of his amazing vocal talents there. ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’ was their biggest hit but other songs like ‘A Better Love’ and ‘Katey’ are well worth checking out as is their debut hit, ‘9.AM.’.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Time Hasn’t Changed Us – Love Affair & Steve Ellis

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‘TIME HASN’T CHANGED US’ (complete CBS recordings 1967-1971} Love Affair/Steve Ellis

L.A. are no doubt remembered famously, or should that be infamously, for being ‘outed’ for not playing on their hits. When ‘Everlasting Love’ hit No.1 in February 1968 the music press had a field day. Well it was no surprise to me, or anyone else in the business. I could write a list as long as my arm of ‘bands’ doing the same then and now.
So leaving all that to one side what did we have? Over roughly an 18 month period 5 beautifully crafted pure pop songs. Kicking off of course with ‘Everlasting Love’ followed by ‘Rainbow Valley’ (a personal favourite) both covers of Robert Knight American releases. Phillip Goodhand-Tait a very talented songwriter gave L.A. their next 3 hits with ‘A Day Without Love’, ‘One Road’ and ‘Bringing on Back The Good Times’ and then it was basically all over. Steve Ellis with his blue eyed soul voice, reminiscent of Steve Marriot moved on to a solo career with mixed levels of success. L.A. recruited Gus Eadon and soldered on but with little success. This 3CD set neatly divides the years with CD1 focusing on the hit period and cover versions of contemporary hits by other artists e.g. ‘Hush’, ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ etc.
CD2 kicks off with another great PGT song ‘Baby I Know’ and a recently discovered acetate, yet again by PGT, ‘Time Hasn’t Changed Us’ which would surely have given L.A. another big hit had it seen the light of day.
Takes on ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Walk on Gilded Splinters’ make for interesting listening. By track 8 Steve Ellis has left the building and the aforementioned Gus Eadon takes over, sounding remarkably like Paul Jones at times. CD3 is devoted to Ellis’s solo recordings, such as ‘Loot’ (from the film) and a plethora of ‘covers’ ranging from Jimmy Webbs ‘Evie’ to ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ ‘Somethings Gotten Hold of My Heart’ ‘Holly Holy'(probably Neil Diamonds worst song!) ‘Gimme Shelter’ etc an eclectic mix, some work well others frankly (for me) don’t. This is the first ‘anthology’ to get a comprehensive release, sound quality is excellent, the lush orchestral arrangements that featured so prominently on the hits fill the speakers, informative sleeve notes and packaging is to a high standard. Overall to sum up a satisfying package for completists and fans. And whether you agree or disagree on the issue of session musicians at the end of the day some great pop music was created that has stood the test of time.    For more information go to

Til next time…………colin-head-111x150


Barry Newton… Its been awhile since I last heard this, good times

Dave Nattress… Everlasting Love – fabulous pop single and so reminds me of my school days. I have a cassette of the LA hits and have often thought of getting a CD – will look out for this one as the sound on the old cassette is a bit poor now. Steve Ellis also went on to form Widowmaker a quite often (back then), so-called Supergroup with Ariel Bender, Paul Nicholls, Huw Lloyd-Langton and Bob Daisley, and did one album but then left. Widowmaker then made a 2nd called Too Late to Cry. A friend had the vinyl of the first album yonks back and I’ve got a CD containing the first album, some live tracks and some off the 2nd album.

Sandra Cunningham… Saw them on the pier about 1968 I think x

Mick O’Dowd… Steve Ellis has always been a rated singer in my books.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing David Courtney Anthology CD

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Earlier this year I reviewed DC’s own albums, now comes this superb collection. A few facts, David is a Grammy nominated songwriter and producer with over 30 million record sales to his credit. Starting off as the drummer in the Roulettes (Adam Faith’s backing band) he went on to discover Leo Sayer and work closely with Roger Daltrey (amongst many others). All the tracks on this 2CD set (37 tracks) are either written or produced by David. The sheer scope and diversity of his talents is breathtaking. ‘One Man Band’, ‘The Show Must Go On’ ‘Long Tall Glasses’ ‘Giving It All Away’ ‘Shooting Star’ ‘Magic Touch’ are just some of the best known songs contained here. Its fascinating to hear Daltreys ‘Giving it All Away’ and to be able to then compare it with Leo’s version both contained here and to do the same again with ‘One Man Band’ but away from the immediately recognisable are some real gems ‘Midnight Child’ Roger Chapman. Maggie Bell’s ‘In My Life’ ‘Rag and Bone’ Steve Ellis and ‘The Dancer’ a Smokie track ive personally not heard before but is superb. I’d also single out Joe Egan with ‘Back On The Road’ and a wonderful take on The Who’s ‘Squeeze Box’ a duet with Roger Daltrey/Adam Faith but to use an old phrase ‘its all killa and no filla. I didn’t skip a single track. The list of featured musicians is awesome, McCartney, David Gilmour, Steve Cropper, Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, Rod Argent, Ray Parker Jnr and on and on…To sum up this overview of one mans work is class, pure class and a joy to listen to. I can do no better than to quote the late great Harry Nilsson who said of David Courtney ‘he’s the English Phil Spector’. With you on that Harry.

The Anthology is released on September 4th. For more info

Till next time…… Colin        colin-head


SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Nearly A Sin by One The Juggler.

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I must confess that for whatever reason until receiving this album OTJ flew completely under my radar back in 1984 when this was first released. Their best known single ‘Passion Killer’ rang a distant bell and that was all. So here for the first time on CD is this release with an additional nine bonus tracks for good measure. So what do we have, well the immediate impression is of a post punk band with glam rock leanings and the odd touch of strings ala ABC. I try to avoid comparisons but I don’t think anyone would argue with the obvious Bowie/Mott/Roxy vibe going on here. Indeed Bowie was a hero to the band and Mick Ronson was lined up for the producers chair on the follow up album. N.A.S. needs, in my view, a good few listens to get the aforementioned influences out of the head and get down to the essence of the band. Clever lyrics and some memorable melodies emerge ‘Djangos Coming’ and ‘Damage Is Done’ are two examples. The interplay between acoustic and electric guitar is neat and the band can certainly rock when they want to. I get the overall feeling that like so many bands OTJ were no doubt a great ‘live’ act who didn’t quite capture their all on disc.
However if you like glam rock with a twist you’ll love this and the quality of the recording is first class. The band has recently reformed and will be playing gigs. I think its quite possible i’ll go along to one!

For more information go to                                                                   Coming soon ‘Stone the Crows’ til then….                                         colin-head-111x150


Janet Crowl…. Did you get to a gig Alan?

Alan Esdaile… No sorry missed them, so did Colin Bell who wrote the review. However keep us updated on any future gigs.


SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell… reviews new cd’s from Sweet, Butterscotch and Robin George

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SWEET ‘New York Groove Plus’

Are you ready Bruce? Pete? Andy? Tony? lets go!! OK, so that’s not quite the same as it once was but Andy Scott has kept the flame burning all these years and let me tell you he’s done a bloody good job. This is a thumpingly good album right from the kick off. Knowing in this market dominated by Cowell clones, airplay for a new Sweet album aint gonna happen he’s astutely ‘Sweetified’ some classics and come up with a gem. ‘New York Groove’, ‘Because The Night’ ‘Join Together’ are just some of the highlights. And yes all the ‘classic’ Sweet ingredients are there, the layered harmonies, sawing guitar riffs and driving drum beats that made them such a great band. In fact listening to the ‘new’ version of ‘New York Connection’ (the original b side of Wig Wam Bam) you are transported back to those heady days of the 70’s. But this is no retro album its Sweet in 2015 doing what they do best rocking hard. I hope this release brings them new fans who will discover what a seminal band they are. I can feel Brian and Mick looking down and nodding their heads and their feet in approval. Rock on Andy and Co, I wish we had a (happy) ballroom to blitz!! And now if this was a radio link I guess i’d be saying from one sweet to another (groan!)……….


BUTTERSCOTCH ‘Don’t You Know Its Butterscotch’

Is it really 45 years almost to the day I received a promo single of ‘Don’t You Know’? yes it is and I don’t know where the time has gone! Released in May 1970 this slice of sunshine pop hit the top twenty and once heard stuck in your head all day. Butterscotch was the brainchild of talented songwriters Arnold, Martin and Morrow (AMMO) who had written for everyone from Elvis to Edison Lighthouse. Much like Edison Lighthouse, White Plains etc Butterscotch were a studio concoction originally. Never released before this CD contains all their recorded material, they never bettered DYK and didn’t trouble the charts again but if you like ‘Sunshine pop, harmony ala Harmony Grass style there is much to enjoy ‘Surprise Surprise’ and ‘Sunday Wont be Sunday Any More’ being two highlights. And as aforementioned you’ll be humming DYK for the rest of the day!


ROBIN GEORGE ‘Dangerous Music ii’

Following on from the album Dangerous Music, comes the never released til now part 2. Robin had a worldwide hit from that first album in 1985 in the shape of ‘Heartline’, a track I have played many many times on my radio shows and a personal favourite. A fan of Little Feat (great band) Robin has a great pedigree playing with amongst others. Phil Lynott, Robert Plant, Roy Wood and Diamond Head. Dangerous Music 11 is clearly an Eighties production, I can imagine some of the tracks playing in scenes from Miami Vice, glossy synth pop overladen with Robins guitar work. Despite some high quality writing there sadly isn’t a track as immediate as ‘Heartline’. Overall its a good listen, best in a convertible heading down a freeway I suspect. And that side of the pond I think is his natural market. However good to see its release after 30 years!

All the above are Angel Air releases. For more information go to

Til next time bye for now and have a great Easter…  Colincolin-head


SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell… reviews David Courtney, Kevin Johnson & Ruperts People.

Hi to one and all. As SMART goes from strength to strength and thread to thread, Alan and I had a natter and decided to have a Record Review feature.As previously posted first there was ‘Top Sounds’ which I passed to Alan after a couple years. After a break of a year or so and a change of location, ‘On The Record’ was born and ran for 35 years in about 28 newspapers. So having hummed and haaad we’ll call this one ‘SMART SOUNDS’ cos its apt and im out of inspiration!…

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Midsummer Madness/Shooting Star (2 albums on 1 Cd) DAVID COURTNEY 

Of interest straightaway, David was responsible for local resident Roger Daltrey’s first foray as a solo artist,writing or co-writing the album ‘Daltrey’ which included what I personally consider one of Roger’s best vocals on ‘Giving It All Away’. David also discovered Leo Sayer for whom he wrote ‘The Show Must Go On’ and ‘One Man Band’. Good credentials…his own work, if it had to have a label on it, it would fall into the ‘prog rock’ box,but thankfully not the overblown 20 minute solo’s variety. Its thoughtful stuff and on the excellent ‘The Easy Way Out’ penultimate track very poignant. The second of the two albums on the CD is a concept piece displaying his interest in Ufology, so less prog rock..more space rock, and maybe the odd echo of Elo. The big surprise is the title track ‘Shooting Star’, amazingly the very song the er..Dollar hit the top twenty with, Yup, David wrote it, but trust me his original version is a long way from the twee twosome. The intro alone will give your ears and your speakers a work out. Overall a interesting listen and the first time released on CD.

Rock and Roll I Gave You Songs KEVIN JOHNSON

And now as far from local as we can get.. Im sure we are all familiar with Rock And Roll I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life’, never was a song so meaningful to many a musician! Originally released in Kevin’s native Australia in 1973 it was edited (by Johnathan King) and released on his UK Record label in 1974 making the top thirty. In fact the edit version is available for the first time on this CD along with the longer album version. Sandwiched between these two cuts are sixteen tracks that demonstrate that KJ was/is no one trick pony and had the potential for more hits. He writes of childhood, money, love, mundanity and life in general with a wistful touch, its overall a gentle listen, one to chill out to.

45 Years And Beyond RUPERTS PEOPLE

And back to Britain and Hastings Pier 1960’s regulars. I have to hold my hands up here and try and be impartial with this one! Having been responsible for compiling the first RP Collection already posted on SMART with liner notes by yours truly..However what you do get extra with this updated release in addition to Reflections, I Can Show You etc is hard to find bonus tracks by Matchbox, Swampfox and Rod Lynton. Oh ok and better mastering….grrrrr

In keeping with the ethos of SMART albums reviewed will be generally of the 60’s/70’s although new releases. All the above CD’s are released on the Angel Air Record Label.

For more information go to colin head

Bye for now….. Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Nice debut review Colin!

Jane Hartley… You need a column in the Observer Colin!

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supplied by Colin Bell

Colin Bell… Nice photo of David Courtney, Roger and Jimmy Page at Reunion!