SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Frijid Pink: The Deram Recordings 1970-1971, 2CD Remastered Edition

FRIJID PINK       The Deram Recordings 1970-1971  (2CD)

I’ve been looking forward to this 2CD set from Esoteric Records containing the 2 albums they released on Decca’s ‘progressive’ offshoot label Deram back in 1970 & 1971. Both albums have been re-mastered sympathetically I’m pleased to say & sound great. The band from Detroit will always be known for their 1970 psychedelic rock re-working of traditional song ‘House of the Rising Sun’ using the template recorded by The Animals 5 years previously in 1964. By the time Frijid Pink released their version in early 1970 a lot had changed in the intervening years. Psychedelia had come & gone (almost),  R&B had evolved, Rock & Pop were splitting in different directions & Prog Rock was on the rise. In many ways Frijid Pink were late to the party with their blend of psyche rock & blues & in other ways were on trend with the way rock was evolving. Sadly,  they have long been written off as that ‘one hit wonder’ band with the fuzz driven ‘Sun’ single.  Detroit has always been known mainly for Motown, however it also had a thriving rock scene where ‘Pink’ would share the stage with the likes of The MC5 & The Amboy Dukes. Their self-titled debut album released in February 1970 which forms the first disc in this new set was never bettered by them in my opinion. Comprising 9 tracks, plus the addition of 2 bonus tracks for this release. It is a far more cohesive collection of psyche rock/blues than their subsequent albums. It kicks off in fine style with ‘God Gave Me You’ a melodic rocker that was to have been their debut single before being pulled in favour of issuing ‘Sun’ which although more commercial i think ‘GGMY’ would have probably fared well. Track 2 ‘Crying Shame’ heavilu features the fuzz toned overdriven guitar sound the band would become known for & rocks hard with some driving drums. Track 3 ‘I’m On Mt Way’ switches gears to deliver a fast driving blues number which doesn’t seem out of place or jar with the preceding tracks. Followed by Track 4 ‘Drivin’ Blues’ which continues the vibe in the same vein. Track 5 ‘Tell Me Why’ seamlessly switches back to the emphasis on a hard rocking fuzz laden mid tempo rocker which showcases their distinctive sound. Track 6 lands us back in a rock/blues mix, complete with some excellent drum work on ‘End of the Line’ Track 7 needs no introduction it’s their signature song & Top 10 version of ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Track 8 ‘I Want To Be Your Lover’ delivers more uptempo blues/rock with a fine lead vocal from Tom Beaudry (aka Kelly Green) & more fine drum work from Rick Stevers. The final Track 9 ‘Boozin Blues’ is a laid back number which wouldn’t sound out of place in a John Mayall set with some fine little blues licks tinged with a hint of fuzz & some nifty piano & closes the album in fine style. All in all a very satisfying album & thoroughly enjoyable. Then we come to the 2 ‘bonus tracks’. The final one, Track 11 ‘Music For The People’ which was released as a single the following year in March 1971 is really rather good with its Gospel choir backing, Hammond organ & fine central vocal performance on a mid tempo ballad. The problem for me comes with the preceding Track 10, where the band obviously hoping to repeat the success of ‘Sun’ picked another classic song to re-vamp, in this case ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. An unwise move, frankly it’s a mess, with its clunky mix of Jerry Lee Lewis piano, screaming vocal & overwrought guitar. Somebody should have stepped in & said let’s forget this, but that didn’t happen & I’m not the least surprised it sank without trace. I would love to say Disc2 in this new compilation lives up to Disc1 but in my estimation it just doesn’t. Released only 5 months after their debut album, which seems hasty to saythe least, ‘Defrosted’ featured here in this new release with it’s original 8 tracks plus an additional 4 bonus tracks lacks the cohesion that made the debut album a great listen. It kicks off with some promise with opener ‘Black Lace’ a heavy rock number, with a bluesy element that promises much but ultimately becomes, dare i say it, somewhat mundane. Track 2 ‘Sing A Song of Freedom’ , which although it doesn’t say so here, I’m fairly sure got a single release, is better & harks back to their superior material on Disc1. Track3 ‘I’ll Never Be Lonely’ sounds like the composer has been spending his time listening to ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ on repeat, let’s just say it’s derivative. The remaining 5 tracks are a hotch potch of numbers, none of which really hang together & do nothing to dispel the lack of any defined direction. I really wish i could be more enthusiastic but by the time i reached instrumental ‘Sloony’ I’m sad to say my interest had waned considerably. However, there is one shining moment that redeems Disc2 & that is the inclusion (as one of the bonus tracks) of ‘We’re Gonna Be There’. Now thereby hangs a tale. Back in 1971 when i was writing my ‘Top Sounds’ column for local newspaper the Hastings Observer i raved about this particular track in my column of Saturday July 10th 1971 when it was then titled ‘When Johnny Comes Marchin Home’ (the  famous old Civil War song). The band had taken the song & like ‘Sun’ put their unique spin on it to great effect. And if any of their single releases was ever going to repeat the success of ‘Sun’ this was the one. Years later i was looking for the track to play on a radio show only to find the band had re-christened it ‘We’re Gonna Be There’ a play on the original lyrics of ‘Johnny’. And cheekilly given themselves a writing credit! Not sure how they got away with that, however I’ve always loved it whatever! I’m thinking maybe I’ll record ‘Rule Brittania’ & call it ‘Rule the Waves’ & grab a writing credit….no probably best not!… In conclusion Frijid Pink have always ranked well in my estimation, especially, as discussed above, for that first album & how many bands can say that Led Zepplin opened for them in Detroit? Frijid Pink can! That & the psychedelic ‘Sun’ bestows everlasting immortality on them. Enjoy.

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Til next time….stay well….Colin

Lloyd Johnson… Great record!…

Alan Esdaile… Still sounds great.

Nick Bloomfield… Well, I’m ashamed to say that I’d never heard of this band and I absolutely love this cover!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Too Much Sun Will Burn: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 Volume 2, 3CD Box Set Various Artists

TOO MUCH SUN WILL BURN (The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 Volume Two) Various 

I could complete this review in 3 words…just buy it! But that won’t do will it.. That’s just the view of this reviewer who has been in love with psychedelia since it’s apogee in 1967, as any regular reader of my reviews, columns, or listeners to my specialist radio shows will know. Back in 2016, Cherry Red’s psyche label Grapefruit Records released the glorious 3CD set ‘Let’s Go Down And Blow Our Minds’ which was hugely well received ( & reviewed in these pages) now after a long anticipated wait, here 7 years later is its companion piece. Once again the whole 3CD set has been given all the love and attention it deserves. 3 Discs each housed in separate sleeves sporting their own cover designs (& disc designs) housed in a beautiful sturdy clamshell box, accompanied by a lavish 48 page booklet annotated by label boss David Wells, a guy for whom my admiration grows with each release he oversees. The booklet contains many rare photo’s together with sleeve covers & fascinating facts on each track to introduce the reader to the collection, & it kicks off with a quote from John Peel. Which could not be more apt, a) given his well known love of the genre & b) on a personal note, he was to become an early mentor & friend to me back in those halcyon days. So let’s get into all the delights on offer for your ears & senses to revel in. We kick off our lysergic drenched journey on Disc1 with what is probably most people’s’s idea of a classic piece of psychedelia in Traffic’s ‘Paper Sun’ which perfectly sets the scene for the 78 tracks to follow in its wake, over what will be a 4 hour journey down the rabbit hole. Immediately following Traffic is one of my all time favourite psyche bands Tomorrow, with ‘Revolution’ (no not The Beatles track!), the band comprised of several luminaries including Twink (Pink Fairies) & Keith West (of ‘Grocer Jack’ fame). ‘Revolution’ was the follow up to their near hit earlier that year with a cover of Nazareth’s arrangement of ‘My White Bicycle’ awash with ‘phasing’ & backward tape loops & all manner of effects so redolent of the whole scene Tomorrow for me have always been a major favourite & the version of ‘Revolution’ included here arrives in an alternate mix which is a bonus. I should add that many alternate takes, debut appearances & rare nuggets surface throughout the collection, to mine & I’m sure over aficionados delight.  Tomorrow are followed by Caleb ( who will be known to those aforementioned aficionados) an early bandmate along with a certain Reg Dwight in Bluesology, prior to releasing such nuggets as ‘Baby Your Phasing is Bad’ included here, the i think the title says it all! As ever it’s the obscure that delights me, but here Grapefruit Records have done a great job balancing this box set with its plethora of the little known, with the big names such as The Troggs, Elton John, The Strawbs (with Sandy Denny), Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Marmalade, The Flower Pot Men etc. Highlights for me on Disc1 come with some favourite tracks from excellent acts Tintern Abbey, The Syn, The Alan Bown! Johns Children & Hastings Pier stalwarts Episode 6 with ‘Love, Hate & Revenge’ bringing back some happy memories for me of working with the latter many times. And so onto Disc2 which opens with the piercing vibe of ‘Dive Into Yesterday’ by the criminally underrated & largely forgotten band Kaleidoscope, who like so many bands that surfaced at the time didn’t quite make it, but thoroughly deserved to. The Move put in an appearance with one of my favourite ‘B’ sides they ever made, in ‘Wave The Flag And Stop The Train’, which was originally coupled with ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’. The Move are joined on Disc2 by other big names The Who, Simon Dupree (& it’s not ‘Kites’!), Procol Harum. The Bonzo’s, DD,DBM&T, Nirvana, The Spencer Davis Group etc Some of the most interesting, & greatest psyche bands put in stellar appearances such as The Attack, The Virgin Sleep, The Mirage & The Artwoods with a special mention to another band i had the pleasure of working with on several occasions, in the shape of Orange Bicycle with ‘Hyacinth Threads’. They were a great band who combined vocal harmony work on par with The Beach Boys combined with intoxicating melodic psyche, a band i could listen to happily all day. As usual when writing about music i love I’m conscious i don’t have the space to discuss EVERY track! (as much as I’d like to), so we must move on to the final disc in the set Disc3. Starting with The Hollies and their foray into psychedelia (headed by Graham Nash) with Top 20 hit ‘King Midas In Reverse’. a great classic, but unfortunately it would also turn out to be the record that would cause the split within the band, that broke them apart with Nash leaving to form CS&N, but that’s a whole other story. Of all 3 discs this one serves up the greatest number of recognisable names with David Bowie, The Idle Race, The Pretty Things, The Small Faces. The Herd The Zombies etc, although you won’t find the ‘usual suspects’ tracks that most compilers put together, another plaudit to David Wells. Amongst the obscure & delightful are contributions from The Creation, The Tickle, Norma Rowe, The Action & Circle Plantagenet. Also, great to see the inclusion of Dave Davies with his second hit follow up to ‘Death Of A Clown’ with, to my mind an equally great record ‘Susannah’s Still Alive’ which sounds better in quality here (it usually sounds muddy) so thanks to whoever cleaned it up. New to me was The Bystanders track ‘Royal Blue Summer Sunshine Day’ a band that usually covered American harmony hits, they later morphed into Man the rock band. I never cease to marvel at all the tracks that surface after all these years that even die hard fans of the genre like me can still be surprised by. The whole collection comes to a close with the wisdom of Pete & Dud & ‘Bedazzled’ which to those of us of a ‘certain age’ brings a warm nostalgic smile. As the compilation alludes to with its title ‘Too Much Sun’. There were many bands in that wonderful ‘summer of love; in 1967 that took flight, some soared to happy heights and were rewarded with fame and glory and some, like Icarus, (the legend, not the band!) flew too close to the sun and crashed and burned to be forgotten. However like the man said, better to crash and burn than slowly fade away….enjoy

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Til next time….stay safe……Colin

Alan Esdaile… Great sleeve Colin and some interesting tracks. 1967 a Great year for music!

Mick O’Dowd… Even me who as you know wasn’t aware of what psych was i’ve actually heard a lot of these bands and hadn’t put them it that pigeonhole! Some great tracks on here

Claire Lonsdale… Lots of my favourite tracks and many more that I have to discover it seems

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing What A Groovy Day – The British Sunshine Pop Sound 1967-1972, 3CD Clamshell Box Various Artists

WHAT A GROOVY DAY -THE BRITISH SOUND OF SUNSHINE POP 1967-1972             Various Artists

Firstly, my apologies for being a bit late with this particular review, this compilation was released last month, however my initial review copy went astray and I’ve only just received it’s replacement. OK so what do we have? Well it couldn’t be more succinctly titled. You may be forgiven for thinking what is ‘sunshine pop’ exactly? To be honest I don’t remember when i started using that description myself, for what has always been basically previously referred to as good ‘harmony pop’. According to David Wells, whose label Grapefruit Records released this new compilation. In the late 90’s an article appeared in the respected magazine Record Collector looking in depth at the American harmony pop movement of the late 60’s as evinced by the likes of The Beach Boys, Mamas & The Papas, 5th Dimension etc etc who brought the sunshine, surfing, beach culture to the rest of the USA all wrapped up in happy feelgood harmony pop tunes. Here in the UK we may not have had the benefit of all that Californian sun & lifestyle but we certainly had our own movement of harmony pop acts, even though they may have conjured up images more redolent of Margate & ice cream than bronzed beach bunnies. As British record collectors latched on to our take on harmony pop, Record Collector editor Peter Doggett coined the ‘sunshine pop’ moniker to add some weight to the genre & distinguish it from it’s American inspiration. This new collection boasts over 4 hours of all that’s best in ‘sunshine pop’ spread over 3CD’s containing a total of 87 tracks which mingles some well known names & hits, combined with rarities & previously unreleased  gems. And full credit to Grapefruit Records they have mined deep on this release turning up gems like a demo by Sweetshop ‘Millions of Million’s which was the first effort by what would become major band Sweet. The whole collection gets underway with the song that gives the compilation it’s title ‘What A Groovy Day’ by Harmony Grass who previously known as Tony Rivers & the Castaways were a pivotal band of the genre. Tony along with John Carter (Ivy League, The Flower Pot Men. First Class etc) were the undisputed kings of well produced catchy harmony/sunshine pop. It’s a surprise that ‘What A Groovy Day’ which was the follow up to hit Harmony Grass track ‘Move In A Little Closer Baby’ (also included in this compilation) wasn’t also a hit, it’s lushly orchestrated catchy hook is really very good. It sets the tone perfectly for the whole compilation. If like me you are a fan of great harmony/sunshine pop you will take delight in hearing songs from bands such as Orange Bicycle, Episode Six, Jason Crest (all bands I’ve worked with). If you’re not familiar with those names you will be with the likes of The Seekers, Cliff Richard, White Plains, The Hollies, The Tremeloes, Hermans Hermits etc, all represented by less well known entries but by no means less interesting. I think it’s fairly pointless for me to go spewing out a whole lot of names contained in this compilation, which unless you’re a die hard fan of the genre, you will probably not recognise, but let me re-assure anyone with only a passing interest in British harmony/sunshine pop from the late 60’s to early 70’s this really is a goldmine of treasures. However to choose a few personal highlights. If you always thought The Congregations 70’s hit ‘Softly Whispering I Love You’ was a great record (i do) here you will find the original recording performed by David & Jonathan (Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway) who wrote it. Another gem is The Alan Bown! with their version of ‘We Can Help You’ originally written & recorded by the great Nirvana (Rainbow Chaser). The aforementioned White Plains ‘Every Little Move She Makes’ deserved to be a big hit but inexplicably wasn’t at the time. So many of these great tracks just nearly made it but for whatever reason didn’t crack the charts or the big time. Even Grapefruit represented here with ‘C’mon Marianne’ struggled to find lasting success despite the full patronage of The Beatles behind them. Long forgotten bands like Tinkerbell’s Fairydust & Sun Dragon all deserved a better fate too. I’ve chosen to end this review by appending a video of Dorian Gray with his version pf ‘I’ve Got You On My Mind’ an upbeat summery classic which peaked at No 36 & earned Dorian an appearance on TOTP, his one & only. The song was later recorded by White Plains who fared better getting to No 17 in the charts, a great version, however I’ve a soft spot for Dorian’s version. As ever i salute David Wells for his wonderfully annotated 48 page booklet that accompanies this release in it’s sturdy clamshell box. Quite simply it’s the soundtrack to what will hopefully be a great British summer and will certainly put a smile on your face. Enjoy.

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Til next time…..stay safe….Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Liquid Gold: Dance Yourself Dizzy – The Collection, 3CD Digipak

I should start this review honestly with a confession…I mostly loathe late 70’s ‘disco’ as spearheaded by anything off Saturday Night Fever! However, there is always the exception. When i saw this Liquid Gold collection listed in the Press Release for April i thought let’s have a re-visit to those days, mostly to be honest because Adrian Baker the man who arranged, wrote, produced & played guitar on the bands recordings was a friend of a friend of mine & i remember thinking how much talent he had when meeting him back in the 70’s not long before he got involved with Liquid Gold. Adrian subsequently went on to great success in the USA working with Frankie Valli & The Beach Boys as well as with his Gidea Park band. So to this sparkling new collection spread over 3 CD’s which gathers together (as far as I’m aware) for the first time all the bands output from the late 70’s to the early 80’s. The bands genesis can be traced back to session regulars Ellie Hope & bassist Ray Knott who formed a band called Babe Ruth releasing albums in the early to mid 70’s. Ellie also had some moderate success with her sisters in soul side band simply named ‘Ellie’. Ellie & Ray then recruited 2 new members Wally Rothe & Syd Twynham & became Dream Coupe before finally settling on the more glamorous & descriptive name Liquid Gold. With a recording deal with Creole/Polo Records they were off & running. CD1 of this new set doesn’t run the tracks in chronological order of release but it’s of no matter as it opens with the funky groove of ‘Could Be Tonight’ (UK version) I should mention the band had separate releases of their material between the UK & the USA but the good news is that full versions of both of their sole album are included in this set. What would become their follow up single to their biggest hit comes up next in the shape of ‘Substitute’ & i confess I’d forgotten just how infectious & catchy a number it was, it climbed to No 8 back on release in 1980 & this extended album version really gets you in the groove. Up next is their silky 1979 single ‘Mr Groovy’ which narrowly missed being a hit (& deserved to be). I’m struck by just how much better they sound now than i seem to remember. They really do kick a driving groove that makes you want to get up & dance. That is exactly what i find myself wanting to do when their signature song hits me next, the one we’ve all been waiting for, dance anthem ‘Dance Yourself Dizzy’ here in it’s UK album version with it’s extended intro. Across the set you will find no less than 7 mixes of the ‘Dizzy’ single, album, 12inch, instrumental etc. That may sound like overkill but personally i enjoyed them all! with my preference going to the original 12inch mix. Ok i admit to a bit of ‘dad dancing; in my living room…also included on Disc1 is the bands debut single ‘Anyway You Do It’ from 1979 which just missed the Top 40 but set out the bands credentials which became more polished as they progressed. And so it’s on to Disc2 kicking off with ‘My Baby’s Baby’ a track from 1979 i confess I’d forgotten about over the years, but another slice of upbeat dance that scored over in the USA where it reached No 5. There is more diverse tracks on Disc 2 apart from different mixes of the tracks already mentioned it also includes amongst it’s highlights C’Mon And Dance’ ‘Don’t Panic’ & my particular favourite ‘The Night, The Wine & The Roses’ which was the follow up single to ‘Substitute’ & although it only managed to reach a fairly lowly No 32 on its release it really was a worthy effort, even if it does partly re-tread ‘Dizzy’. By the end of Disc2 i feel thoroughly energised by the music & have re-evaluated my opinion of Liquid Gold from my original thoughts from back in the day when ‘Dance Yourself Dizzy’ was a good floorfiller for me when doing my live DJ gigs. I now appreciate having listened & dug deeper how accomplished vocally & musically they were. Ellie has a very strong distinctive vocal & the music is of a higher quality than i previously assigned it. The band have this Nile/Chic style sound going on, i don’t like comparisons generally but i mean it as high praise in this case. When they are not grooving on uptempo dance numbers Ellie’s softer vocal on tracks like ‘One Of Us Fell In Love’ & particularly ‘Where Did We Go Wrong’ is very satisfying & appealing. The final DIsc3 rounds up many mixes of ‘Dizzy’ & the other aforementioned tracks like ‘Substitute’ & ‘The Night, The Wine & The Roses’ in their instrumental form & also delivers 2 solo releases from Ellie, 1983’s  ‘Lucky’, a smooth dance number & her 12inch version of ‘Don’t Feel Sorry’ another Chic like groover. The compilation altogether boasts 46 tracks over it’s 3 discs & is accompanied by an informative booklet in its digipack packaging. It must be getting on for 50 years now since i last saw Adrian all those years ago, all i can say is he did a much better job with Liquid Gold than i appreciated back in the day, i get it now. Enjoy.
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Til next time….stay safe….Colin  


Alan Esdaile… I was a bit surprised to read two of them were in Babe Ruth.

Colin Bell… Ellie & Ray were only members for just a year in ’75-’76

Kevin Jones… I had the great pleasure to work with Ellie Hope in the mid 80’s on an album project and I can confirm that she was (and probably still is) an incredible singer and a lovely lady.

Colin Bell…That’s good to hear Kevin, i never had the pleasure of meeting the lady, but she sure has a great voice!

Mick O’Dowd… Remember Babe Ruth. Didn’t realise that LG had such a large back catalogue. Loved Dizz as it was a floorfiller guaranteed!

Austin Farmery… I ordered this 3xCD Liquid Gold Collection a few weeks back from Cherry Red and recieved it yesterday. I always liked Liquid Gold back in the day but WOW hearing this compilation is real music to my ears !! I realise now that I missed out on a lot of theirs and Ellie’s output but I am certainly gonna make up for it now. I would love to thank everybody that was involved in the making and production etc of this truly wonderful collection. To Liquid Gold, Thank You For The Music

George Murdie… Loved this song 1 of my fav’s

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Tony Rivers: Move In A Little Closer – The Complete Recordings 1963-1970, 3CD Box Set


It’s been a long time coming, but finally Tony gets a comprehensive release of all his recordings from his career with the Castaways & Harmony Grass. I’m delighted for him. He’s a member of this (SMART) group & i know has many FB friends on the site. So, Tony if and when you read this review any errors that follow are purely mine! I’ve never made any secret of my love for harmony/sunshine pop as regular readers will know. Along with John Carter, Rogers- Cook & Greenaway, Tony is one of the most pivotal exponents of the genre to emerge from the 60’s. He’s been there & got the T shirt many times over and has nothing to prove to anyone. There, as usual, is an excellent essay accompanying this new release by Grapefruit Records boss David Wells with many insights on his career from Tony himself and i highly recommend you read it for the full picture of a man who like his 2019 autobiography title says ‘I’m Nearly Famous’. Tony’s story started back in 1961 when a 20 year old Tony Thompson originally from County Durham began working at Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Clacton as a lowly store clerk with ambitions to sing. It was at a Butlins Staff Show that he first got up on stage and sang a couple of Cliff Richard numbers, ironically a foretaste of one of his greatest successes that would come years later as musical director/arranger for Cliff during his re-invention & hugely successful period in the 70’s & 80’s. However back to the beginning and whilst at Butlins Tony met another musician which would lead him to eventually meet and join up with Dagenham band The Cutaways as lead singer. At this point Tony Thompson became Tony Rivers. The Cutaways played all the usual clubs, ballrooms etc of the times, they gained experience, members and managers came and went but by 1962 their latest manager suggested a change of name to the more catchy Tony Rivers & The Castaways and now a fully pro band they attended and passed an audition for EMI Records at Abbey Road in 1963. It was in April of that year that Tony first encountered The Beatles, supporting them at a gig at the Pigalle club following that year’s annual New Musical Express Concert at Wembley. Tony would later go on to be managed by Brian Epstein, but I’m in danger of writing his life story here, so once more i urge you to read the aforementioned essay for the full picture, lets get to the 3 CD’s contained in this package. I’m very pleased to see unlike some compilations this one lays out the tracks in chronological order which enables you to follow the development of Tony and the band. The whole thing kicks off on Disc1 with ‘Shake Shake Shake’ a cover of a recent hit for American Jackie Wilson & whilst it’s energetic and perfectly competent it’s not especially memorable, however it does immediately show off Tony’s voice to good advantage & along with the next half a dozen following tracks you notice the compelling harmony work going on. All the songs sound like they could have happily landed on The Beatles ‘Please Please Me’ album if they had just been a touch more catchy. But i could make that statement about a great many of the groups from that time. Things start to change musically when we hit track 9 ‘Til We Get Home’ a song written by Tony that is as close to a Beach Boys number as any UK performer has ever come. This was the result of Tonys new found friendship with Carl Wilson & Brian Johnson who he had met at EMI house in Manchester Square. It was at their suggestion that Tony & Co record ‘God Only Knows’ as a single (track 20 on this compilation) as the band themselves had no intention of doing so, it was just another track from the then unreleased ‘Pet Sounds’ In July 1966 Tony & the Guys released their version… on the same day as The Beach Boys own original version! This sort of combination of broken promises/bad luck/timing, seems to loom largely over the whole of Tony’s career throughout the 60’s particularly and beyond…Also to be found on Disc1 is the boys cover of The Beatles ‘Nowhere Man’ from Rubber Soul, and a very good version as a single it is. However, the ‘curse’ of the Castaways struck again when despite given a catalogue number by EMI at the last moment the release was cancelled by Brian Epstein who decided against releasing it. One of the best tracks on Disc1 belongs to a number called ‘The Grass Will Sing For You’ a beautifully constructed song that sounds like a cross between The Beach Boys & The Association, albeit with Tony’s own musical magic touch to the exquisite harmony work. Tony is no mean songwriter either CD1 concludes with his composition ‘Pantomime’ which has a whiff of psyche about it along with the trademark harmonies. After years at EMI with little to no success by late 1968 things badly needed to change. And change they did in came a new manager, a new producer Chris (Yesterday Man) Andrews & a new label RCA Records. In January 1969 this combination along with a name change to Harmony Grass finally rewarded Tony & the boys with a No 24 hit record with ‘Move In A Little Closer’ a gloriously catchy slice of pop, retaining the harmonies the band were renowned for, but also adding far more orchestral backing (courtesy of Johnny Arthey), a move, purist Tony wasn’t especially onboard or comfortable with.,.however nothing ventured…But again that earlier ‘curse’ i alluded to came back to bite them, when the very week ‘Move In A Little Closer’ was heading up the charts, the way in which units were sold and calculated for chart position was changed resulting in the band’s first, and as it turned out sole hit, being stuck in the 20’s when it should have been in a higher position! Although I don’t think in my own opinion Tony was as happy with his work in Harmony Grass as his previous incarnation, i personally prefer much of the material such as the beautiful ‘I’ve Seen To Dream’ (written by Tony) a very classy & i think more contemporary piece of material. Another choice track is ‘Good Thing’ to coin a phrase ‘God Only Knows’ how long it took Tony to work out all those harmony parts! The standout track for me though has to be another composition by Tony entitled ‘Summer Dreaming’, had this been put out in the USA under the CS&N name i predict it would have been a monster hit. I’m getting short of space now (as usual!) but room to mention Disc3 that is a first time on CD issue for some of the bands most popular songs recorded for BBC sessions in both Castaway & Harmony Grass configurations. To summarise, this new and much requested compilation of a British harmony icon will delight his many fans. Boasting 88 tracks, together with the splendid essay i referred to earlier, i congratulate Grapefruit Records on yet another winning release. As for Tony, he may be the only man i can think of to have the patronage of The Beach Boys, hung with The Beatles, been managed by the 2 greatest managers ever in Brian Epstein and Robert Stigwood, play everywhere you can imagine and work his socks off for a decade to only have one solitary hit to show for it by 1970. However, his story was far from over after that and he would go on to new milestones, but that is a story for another day and maybe another compilation. Enjoy!

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Til next time….stay safe…Colin

Mick O’Dowd… They were rumoured to have been the only band to play Good Vibrations live on stage. If true I just know that they could have done it. Even the BB didn’t include it in their stage act until later on. I have seen them a couple of times at The Witch Doctor in St.Leonards in the 60’s and they appeared on the Pier as well. Great band and highly underated. Thanks for this Colin.

Alan Esdaile… Not forgetting he sung The Likely Lad’s theme ‘Whatever happened To You’.

Colin Bell… Alan, I forgot to mention that!


SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewingTeenage Glampage – Can The Glam 2, 4CD Box Set

TEENAGE GLAMPAGE!  (Can  The Glam 2)    Various Artists

Released this Friday (17th( is this eagerly anticipated follow up to the original ‘Can The Glam’ compilation, as previously reviewed in these pages. With it being a critical & commercial success, the boys at 7T’s Records have trawled the archives to bring you this follow up 4CD box set featuring a further 80 tracks from the early to mid 70’s when Glam Rock reigned supreme. Featuring big hitters, the also ran, the obscure & a wedge of tracks making it onto CD for the first time. Roughly 4 hours of foot stomping that takes you back to those heady days of platform shoes, outrageous make-up, insistent drums & memories of my Dad looking askance at Steve Priest of Sweet on Top Of The Pops & muttering darkly ‘what is that?!’ Pouting lips, swastika armbands & glitter make up on men were definitely alien in his world! As is pretty obvious it is a play on Sweet’s  hit ‘Teenage Rampage’ that forms the title of this new compilation & that track kicks off Disc2, However, lets not get ahead of ourselves. Disc1 starts off with a track i confess i don’t ever recall hearing before, from UK Jones, a pseudonym for writer Mike Berry who had a hand in many one off 70’s singles. There are many shouts of ‘hey hey’ abounding & as you progress through this compilation you realise just how ubiquitous that drum sound that Mike Leander & the now disgraced GG came up with for ‘Rock & Roll Parts 1&2 was, as it seems to appear across so many varied tracks from so many bands jumping on the Glam bandwagon.  Track 2 featuring the ‘B’ side to Lieutenant’s Pigeon ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ entitled ‘The Villain’ sounds like something The Glitter Band might use to warm up. Up next is a track i remember fondly, being Harley Quinne (another Cook/Greenaway creation) with their version of the old classic rocker ‘New Orleans’ a record i spun many times at Disco’s at the time. Big names featured on this first disc include T Rex, Wizzard, Mott The Hoople & Geordie. It’s good to hear ‘Ball Park Incident’ as opposed to the usually compiled ‘See My Baby Jive’ & also the 3rd hit single from Geordie with ‘Can You Do It’ which was the record that did well for them in Australia & brought lead singer Brian Johnson to the attention of AC/DC where some years later he would become their new lead singer. I remember supporting the band around the time they released this single on Hastings Pier, great live band. On to Disc2 as aforementioned this kicks off with Sweet to be followed by Ricky Wilde with his teenybopper anthem ‘Teen Wave’, incorrectly billed here as Kim Wilde’s older brother, he was/is in fact her younger brother (a rare mistake from this label!) Ricky was signed to Jonathan King’s UK Records & JK was convinced he could make him the next Donny Osmond, it never happened though & Ricky became much more successful writing & producing big hits for his sister. Next up is the obscure band Buster with a great bouncy number entitled ‘Superstar’. Adrian Baker, the man behind the band would go on to fame and chart success in the future with Gidea Park, notably with his cover of the 4 Seasons ‘Sherry’. Well known names on Disc2 come in the shape of Brotherhood of Man, Slik, Don Fardon, The Glitter Band & Cozy Powell. Don Fardon’s cover of Geordies ‘Don’t Do That’ is rather good as is The Glitter Band’s reworking of the old Exciters hit ‘Tell Him’. Amongst the lesser known names an honourable mention goes to Big John’s Rock N Roll Circus with ‘Lady Put The Light On Me’ a record favoured by Johnny Mason on his CHR radio show where i have heard it played several times. As ever, sadly i don’t have the space to comment on every track contained in this compilation, however on the remaining Discs 3 & 4 you will find the likes of John Paul Young, Chicory Tip, Mud, Barry Blue, Bay City Rollers, Hello, Kenny & Suzi Quatro all names you will be familiar with. But scattered amongst these big names you will find a plethora of unfamiliar gems, which for me is always the source of the greatest enjoyment, discovering obscure tracks new to me even after all these years. I commend to you the likes of Hush,  Method, Snaps, The Times & Rosetta Stone all acts previously unknown to me that i have enjoyed making the acquaintance of whilst listening to this release. The whole collection comes housed in 4 separate card sleeves contained within a sturdy clamshell box complete with a 32 page colour booklet showing sleeve covers & with notes on each track giving a wealth of information & invaluable trivia to enthusiasts like myself. All those who invested in the first Can The Glam compilation will not be disappointed with this follow up edition. Enjoy

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Til next time………..stay safe…Colin

Colin Bell… Forgot to mention in my review there is a track on the compilation by the band Fancy, which was produced by Mike Hurst with lead guitar from Ray Fenwick, 2 guys who i know many local musicians are well acquainted with!

Will Cornell… I  didn’t know ya’ll had K-Tel albums over there too! And if you miss the days of the “Tribute Album”, in the 90s we had the tribute to the K-Tel album, awful 70s earworms done by 90s alt-rock stars like Smashing Pumpkins, et al. As they say in the liner note, the K-Tel albums culled only the best radio hits of the day and were one or two cuts plus or minus, the equivalent of “Beatles ’65”. So what if your Aunt Martha gave them to you for your birthday, why wade thru a whole album of Terry Jacks when all you wanted was “Seasons in the Sun”?

Alan Esdaile… Yes the K-Tel albums were very popular in the UK, Will but the quality wasn’t so good. Also a similar compilation range called ‘Ronco’.

Will Cornell… I remember Ronco well. When I worked at Hastings/Western Merch (stores and company name, not your fair city) as a budget music buyer, K-Tel stuff, 6 months or so after they were on TV, became part of what we could sell in stores, and cheaper than the TV price. They actually had some good stuff on occasion. Indeed, give or take a few cuts here and there and a typical KTel album with the hideous cover art, were one of two cuts above or below “Beatles ’65” as far as having great songs. The Motown compilations much the same, but with K-tel they stretched across multiple labels. And face it, did you really want a whole album by that band that did the “oog-ah-sogg-ah” version of “Hooked on a Feeling”? No, you wanted just that song on an LP alongside other songs by similar artists.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing The First Class: Beach Baby – The Complete Recordings, 3CD Set

Hi everyone. Happy New Year to you all. Welcome to another year of SMART SOUNDS reviewing all the best new compilations & re-releases of classic material from the 60’s & 70’s. There are many exciting albums & artistes on the way. So, lets kick off the year with the release of a long overdue handsome box set compiling all the records credited to The First Class, plus a plethora of unreleased tracks, pseudonymous tracks, jingles & more. When Christmas comes around we all know & expect to hear Slade & ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ & when Summer rolls around you can guarantee you will hear the one track by First Class everybody knows ‘Beach Baby’. Its long been a disappointment to me that the vast majority of people never get past listening to any other First Class tracks, there is so much to discover & enjoy. At last, those lovely people at Grapefruit Records have compiled this lavish 3CD digipack, complete as usual with a well written set of notes by label boss David Wells. The First Class was the brainchild of a man who has featured in these pages several times, lastly with a compilation dedicated to all his many creations. That man is John Carter. For anyone who isn’t familiar with John, he is the man who started life in a band called the Carter-Lewis Southerners with songwriting partner Ken Lewis (Hawker), gave us The Ivy League, The Flowerpot Men, White Plains & many ‘one off” names over the decades. When it comes to harmony pop John is a titan in the UK music scene & The First Class was arguably the apogee of his achievements. It’s certainly a view i hold myself. Many critics back in 1974 when ‘Beach Baby’ was released referred to it as a UK pastiche of American icons The Beach Boys. It’s true the Beach Boys style was an obvious influence but there it ends. For years John had spent his time in the studio making records (& advertising jingles) & releasing them under different names as aforementioned. Although he would sometimes perform live he had no real interest in doing so, his love was to be in the studio creating. After years of collaborative songwriting with Ken his writing partner, in 1972 John’s wife Gill started writing with John when Ken started experiencing health problems. Gill’s way with lyrics brought a new perspective to the mix when she wrote an early hit in 1972 ‘Dreams Are Ten A Penny’ released under the name Kincade. Although not a hit in the UK it was big across the continent. The following summer in 1973 whilst John was watching the Wimbledon final Gill sat & wrote the lyrics to what became ‘Beach Baby’. Immediately seeing it’s more mature potential John came up with the tune & gathering together members of his usual collaborators & session singers, chiefly Tony Burrows & Chas Mills the trio entered the studio & ‘Beach Baby’ was born. The finished recording was licensed to independent label UK Records, owned & ran by Jonathan King. It was a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic in Summer 1974. My old friend & mentor John Peel, not really noted for his love of ‘pop’ music described it as ‘ 5 minutes of near perfection’, praise indeed. The success of BB led to the demand from King for a follow up single & more importantly an album. Using BB as a template John, Tony & Chas together with other regular contributors including former Shadows drummer Brian Bennett entered the studio & with all the songs written by John & wife Gill came up with the album. They had the clever idea of linking the tracks with a fading in & out radio presenter, as if you the listener, were tuning in your radio, complete with a whooshing & high pitched whine. The album simply self titled forms CD1 of this new box set. I believe it is not just a great pop harmony record, It is one of the finest albums of any genre to emerge from the UK in the 70’s & contains some of the most lovingly crafted, intricate & beautifully constructed songs committed to vinyl in those days. You may think I’m eulogising too much for a ‘pop’ record but trust me I’m very definitely not. I don’t usually struggle to come up with a suitable adjective to describe songs, when it comes to many songs on this album such as ‘What Became Of Me’ ‘Long Time Gone’ ‘Bobby Dazzler’ (the follow up single to BB) & in particular ‘I Was Always A Joker’ the right adjective is i believe ‘majestic’ (you can judge the latter for yourselves with the YT clip accompanying this review). John (who sang lead on ‘Joker’) managed to create an album that evokes the best of the 60’s records that contained a summer ‘vibe’. I love this album, even the inclusion of reworked versions of ‘Dreams Are Ten A Penny’ & early Ivy League hit ‘Funny How Love Can Be’ are not out of place or surperfluous. The original album is bolstered on this release by an additional dozen bonus tracks, many previously un-released. Although not commercially a huge seller King was still enthusiastic enough to release more First Class singles & commission a 2nd album. This was released in 1976 entitled SST (an acronym for Super Sonic Travel) & takes up CD2 of this compilation. As John was not expecting to produce a 2nd album for King SST doesn’t cut it in the way its superb predecessor did. This is not entirely surprising when you realise the songs were compiled together from disparate recording sessions which were not all primarily intended to end up on a First Class album. However, having said that it still has its highlights such as ‘I Was A Star’ another loving Beach Boy-esque pastiche, the plaintive ‘Childs Play’ or the multi layered upbeat ‘Life Is Whatever You Want It To Be’ Rather annoyingly (& it’s my one complaint) it contains the short edited version of a personal favourite in ‘Too Many Golden Oldies’ (the full length version is the final track of the compilation on Disc3). I wish it had been placed where the edit has been. Still a minor niggle. Again, like Disc1, SST contains a wealth of bonus tracks (including some nostalgic jingles that made me smile) & some interesting tracks, new to me I’ve not heard before such as ‘Broken Toy’ & the bands take on the old Brenton Wood track ‘Gimme Little Sign’. Disc3 completes the set with a huge selection of jingles, one off creations & all manner of other John Carter creations which although of interest to die hard fans, may prove to be non essential to fans of First Class & will probably be best appreciated by completists, interested in Johns full remarkable musical history. So, there we have it, the first review of 2023 & for me its been a great start. Once again i congratulate Grapefruit Records on doing a fine job of making this new compilation available, Its worth buying just to own that debut album alone. Enjoy.

for more information go to
Til next time…..stay safe…..Colin

to catch up on Colin’s previous SMART SOUNDS reviews …

Mick O’Dowd… Always thought FC were a one-hit wonder, disposable pop etc. Didn’t know about all the other stuff. I knew JK was prolific inventor of bands/singers and I was aware of Tony Burrows. This appears to be a very good compilation I must say

Colin Bell… I’m pretty sure knowing you as well as i do, you’d enjoy it for sure

Alan Esdaile… I was always a joker is a Great track.


SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Ain’t Nothing But A House Party – 60s and Early 70s Club Soul Classics, 3CD Set Various Artists


Calling all Soul, Motown & Northern Soul fans. This brand-new compilation from the excellent Strawberry Records is a must have treat. 3CD’s running to 89 tracks, providing hours of great listening & if you’re so inclined, non-stop dancing around your living room. It struck me that this small (in overall size) package would have enabled me to do a whole DJ gig back in the day when i first started out gigging from club to club, all over the South of England. I could have saved all that energy i spent lugging crates of vinyl up and down the many flights of stairs that always seemed to exist where i was booked! Now of course that can be reduced even further to a small stick inserted into a laptop. But let’s forget all the technology as this compilation returns you to the days of sweaty dancefloors, filled by crowds dancing to the strains of the artists contained here on those 7inch pieces of vinyl. As one might expect from the compilation’s title the whole collection starts off with an irresistible burst of energy from The Showstoppers that gives rise to the compilations title ‘Aint Nothing But A Houseparty’. There surely can’t be many DJs from my era that didn’t hammer that track to death. Its infectious atmosphere was perfect in setting the tone on the dancefloor & opening the way for many great tunes to follow. And that is exactly what is going on here. ‘Shirley Ellis ‘Soul Time’ Marvin Gaye ‘Can I Get A Witness’ Edwin Starr ‘Agent Double O Soul’ The Temptations ‘Girl’ The Contours ‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’ Sam & Dave ‘You Don’t Know Like I Know’ the classics keep on coming on Disc1. Big names abound like the aforementioned, together with more classics from Booker T. Jnr Walker, Martha & the Vandellas, Rufus Thomas, Wilson Pickett & so many more, And i might add often not the usual common compiled tracks, but some real golden nuggets of songs I’ve forgotten over the years but am delighted to get re-acquainted with. It’s great to also see the likes of the lesser-known names, many of whom were picked up by the Northern Soul crowd, represented here by those such as Darrell Banks, Darrow Fletcher. The Astors & Tony Clarke, some real gems.  I’m particularly pleased to see a couple of tracks from artistes that i believe don’t see enough exposure in compilations, Solomon Burke & the wonderful Johnny Otis. CD2 kicks off with perennial favourite ‘Move on Up’ another sure-fire floor filler, from the late Curtis Mayfield, before again like Disc1 bringing on more big guns in the shape of Dobie Grey, The Four Tops, The Velvelettes. Otis Redding, The O’Jays. the glorious Chairmen of the Board & Freda Payne to name but a few. Three of my all-time favourite tracks are to be found on this disc, R Dean Taylor with classic ‘Ghost in my House’ (although it must be noted this is an alternate take) The Drifters ‘One Way Love’ a track that was a big hit for Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers in the mid 60’s but i have always much preferred this version & Robert Knight with ‘Love on a Mountain Top’ whose original recording of ‘Everlasting Love’ gave The Love Affair their enduring hit in 1968. Other notable mentions go to tracks from Homer Banks, Chuck Wood, The Falcons & Bobby Wells. Disc3 differs a little from its predecessors at the start with the inclusion of some unexpected tracks from Little Richard & Madeline Bell with ‘Get Down With It’ & ‘I Really Got Carried Away’ respectively. In my head Little Richard signals Rock & Roll to me rather than Soul, however it does actually slot in to the running order rather well here. Again, i associate Madeline with more pop orientated material in general, however this soul stomper is well chosen. I was amused to see 2 of the greatest live acts of the 60’s nestling side by side on tracks 7 & 8. Jimmy James & the Vagabonds ‘Hi Diddley Dee Dum’ followed by Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band with ‘I’ve Been Hurt By Love’. I’ve known both guys forever & they have always been fierce competitors for best live soul act with both putting on brilliant shows. I love both dearly & have spent many happy hours in their company. These 2 tracks are followed by the evergreen ‘Beggin’ by Timebox, which despite playing it myself a thousand times at a thousand gigs over the years i still don’t tire of. Other excellent sides come from The Alan Bown Set (such an underrated act) The Foundations, Wynder K Frog & Major Lance. More obscure delights are provided by less familiar names Kenny Bernard (clearly a Northern Soul number), Jason Knight, Lorraine Silver, Sugar Simone & a host of others. Great to also see old friend Carl ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ Douglas getting a look in with the seldom heard ‘Crazy Feeling’ displaying his soul credentials on this early 1966 cut. The whole compilation comes to a close with another old favourite of mine ‘Loving on the Losing Side’ by Tommy Hunt whose long career stretches all the way back to 1959. Tommy is a big favourite with the Northern Soul crowd & I’m delighted to say is still with us as he reaches his 90th year. As ever, space precludes me from mentioning every track but I’m confident you now have a good flavour of what’s in store for you on this excellent new compilation. It comes in a sturdy clamshell box & as always with a well-researched & written accompanying booklet with details on the artists & tracks included. This being the last album review of 2022 it just remains for me to say a few thanks. Firstly, to my friends at Cherry Red Records & all their different stable of labels that have provided all the great material we have listened to this year. Special thanks to Matt for keeping me supplied & for his enthusiasm. Thanks to Alan & SMART for all his hard work transcribing these reviews. And finally, & most importantly, to all you readers who have left feedback & often kind comments through the SMART website & FB page. I thank you all. God willing, as long as my brain & fingers are still working! I’ll see you in 2023 for more great music. Until then take care, stay safe & well…..Colin x

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Mick O’Dowd… Worked with them in the 80’s at Pebbles Night Club. Great band!An Absolute gem Colin! The tracks of my Mod years and more! In the words of Hot Chocolate, “Everyone’s a Winner!

Alan Esdaile… I never got to see them but great single and always a floor filler.

Jim Breeds… I promise you that non-stop dancing in my living room would be the end of me these days, so, by definition, it would stop!

Merv Kennard… Might have to add this to my collection at some stage.

Neil Cartwright… Great compilation. Reminds me of nights at Wigan Casino.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Deep In The Woods – Pastoral Psychedelia & Funky Folk 1968-1975, 3CD Set Various Artists


If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big……compilation! Sorry guys i tried to resist that opening line but the temptation proved too much! On with the music now. Let’s firstly tackle the rather lengthy title of this new 3CD compilation from Strawberry Records. In a nutshell (no pun intended!) this is a collection of what I personally would refer to as Acid Folk (certainly in the main) a hybrid of traditional folk meeting electric experimental folk mixed in a cauldron of late 60’s early 70’s psychedelia with some sprinklings of jazz/funk. Confused? don’t be, it may all sound a bit bewildering but it’s really just a collection for those music lovers that like esoteric gems from the aforementioned time period. It’s not going to appeal to die-hard folk purists whose enjoyment comes mainly from traditional songs often just handed down orally from generation to generation & to whom electric guitars & various studio effects like phasing and flanging appear, heresey! There is an excellent essay on the whole folk/psyche/jazz movement written by Richard Norris that accompanies this release which goes into all the detail you could wish for and is very well written. I recognise roughly a third of the names in this collection. Cherry Red have certainly delved deep into their vaults to bring you the listener some real treasures. With 3 CD’s each running on average 77 mins each there is an awful lot to enjoy. 54 tracks in total. As space precludes me going track by track i have selected half a dozen examples from each CD to give you an overall flavour. CD1 gets us underway with ‘Leafy Lane’ a gentle slice of pastoral rock, reminiscent of something early Traffic might have produced. This is however by Fat Mattress, the band formed by Noel Redding who swapped his bass in the Jimi Hendrix Experience for some mellow guitar playing here, a good start. Of particular interest to some people i know will be reading this, are tracks 4 & 5 by Mike Hurst & Ray Fenwick respectively. Mike’s track ‘Face From The Past’ with its harpsichord intro is a mid to up-tempo number, rocky with some baroque psyche overtones & is very enjoyable, there’s a familiar riff in there which i recognise, just can’t quite grasp where from! Ray’s track ‘I Wanna Stay Here’ is right up my street with its heavily laden phasing (think Nirvana ‘Rainbow Chaser’) a great slice of laid-back psychedelia taken from his solo album Keep America Beautiful-Get A Haircut. Track 9 The Woods Band ‘Noisey’ take us for a really jaunty instrumental ride, the likes of which immediately reminds me of spending time in an Irish pub, no surprise as the band turn out to be Irish! very pleasing. Track 10 ‘Yorric’ by Welsh singer Meic Stevens is a wonderfully put together work of folk/psyche drenched in all manner of instruments with the sitar having a starring role. Great, absolutely love it. Track 11 is a surprising inclusion by Arrival (yes, the same band that had a hit with ‘Friends’) although the track ‘La Virra’ featured here is a long away from that. A jazzy piece, with organ & bass breaks, apart from a brief faint echo of a vocal its a brisk instrumental. As you can see already this really is a diverse album My last pick from CD1 is a band i have always been a fan of, Dando Shaft. They were signed to Miki Dallons Youngblood Records & i once had the pleasure of having a few bevvies with the guys back in the day when calling in to see Miki. The guys were often compared to Pentangle or The Incredible String Band. You can make up your own minds by listening to their track ‘Cold Wind’ as featured here at the end of this review. CD2 brings another mixed bag of delights featuring many artistes i confess to not being overly familiar with such as Chris Harwood, who opens proceedings with an ethereal piece called ‘Wooden Ships’. The Ghost, Second Hand, Fuschia & Amber again are all new to me with their very varied entries. Amongst the artistes i do know are the more well known acts Heron, Mellow Candle (if you’ve got an original vinyl album you’ve hit the jackpot!) Trader Horne, Trees, Keith Christmas & Bridget St John are all artistes whose work i do know. Sadly, despite John Peel’s many efforts to get me ‘into’ Bridget’s material…in all honesty i couldn’t. John formed his own Dandelion Records to release her work & she is i know highly regarded & is represented here by her track ‘Fly High’ i just personally find her slightly depressing, but as ever it would be a boring old world if we all liked the same thing as the saying goes. There is a great track by Global Village Trucking Company, the splendidly titled ‘The Inevitable Fate of Ms Danya Sox’ which isn’t quite as bizarre as it sounds, it’s got a really great groove. And finally, to CD3 which opens with a definite favourite for me with Sunforest ‘Magician In The Mountain’ a funky number to be sure. You might be wondering what the word ‘funk’ or ‘funky’ is doing appearing anywhere in this review of folk/psyche/rock numbers, well it should be remembered that a lot of the early bands in particular, drew their drummers from a pool of musicians that had started their careers playing jazz & came with experience of playing in a funky style. However, i digress, more familiar names crop up on this final CD in the set, such as Jade Warrior, Curtis Knight & more from Bridget. The wonderfully wacky ‘act’, well an ‘experience’ really! Principal Edwards Magic Theatre weigh in with ‘The Death of Don Quixote’ all 13 minutes of it, if you’ve never been exposed to them, you have a treat in store there! They are followed by 2, to my mind, unlikely inclusions. The first being Yvonne Elliman, who had a big hit with ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar’. Here she is featured with a plaintive rather beautiful mid-tempo ballad named ‘Hawaii’ which conjures up pictures of the subject matter rather well. The compilation is brought to a close by the second of the unlikely inclusions, with Linda Lewis’s ‘Reach For The Truth’ from her 1972 album ‘Lark’ which if memory serves, was also released as a single together with’ Rock-A-Doodle-Doo’. It’s a great track if maybe just a little too ‘funky’ to gel with the other tracks on the compilation. Notwithstanding that it’s always good to hear Linda. She is a member of the SMART group, so Linda if you’re reading this, it’s been a while since we last spoke when i reviewed your album ‘Hampstead Days’. don’t be a stranger, send me a message & let me know what you’re doing! So, there we have it another great compilation to savour for aficionados of all things folk/psyche. The collection comes in a fold out digipack which when opened up book style the 2 facing pages form one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork i believe I’ve ever seen on a CD/Record cover, it’s stunning, capturing the spirit of the collection spot on, i could stare at it for hours and probably will. So, in conclusion to borrow a line from the aforementioned Linda & my favourite version of a particular song, do have a listen to this compilation it may be ‘surprisingly good for you’!. Enjoy.

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Til next time….stay safe & well……Colin

Jim Breeds… Very interesting Colin. Thanks for the review. Sounds right up my street. However, I just invested in ‘Bert Jansch at the BBC’, a 4 LP set that comes with an additional 6 hours of download content, so I have plenty to listen to for a while!

Alan Esdaile… Great cover and interesting tracks.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Julie Driscoll: 1969, Remastered Edition


1969    Julie Driscoll

I should imagine that the vast majority of people remember Julie for several reasons. Her undoubted beauty that shone even in an era of many beautiful faces. Her 1968 psychedelic No 5 hit ‘This Wheels on Fire’ with Brian Auger & the Trinity. Or you may go back earlier to her participation in Steampacket, the band formed by blues singer Long John Baldry in 1965, that famously included a young Rod Stewart. It also included Hammond maestro Brian Auger with whom Julie would break away with to form the aforementioned Trinity. By 1969 Julie had been touring relentlessly for 4 years & was tired. Tired of the double-edged sword of fame which having a hit like ‘This Wheels on Fire’ brought, but then ground you down relentlessly as you were called upon to endlessly & repeatedly perform it as well as looking a certain way, expected of you by Press & public alike. It was time for a change. A fresh beginning, or to quote the title of the opening track of her solo album ‘A New Awakening’.  After a final series of gigs with the band, Julie left the band for a solo career. For some time she had been writing her own material with the aid of an acoustic guitar. Encouraged by her manager Georgio Gomelsky who had successfully managed The Yardbirds & owned his own label Marmalade Records, Julie set to work on what would become her solo album, named simply after the year it was produced, 1969. Georgio introduced her to Keith Tippett a jazz orientated musician & another of his stable of artistes. It was to be a special coming together. Julie was very taken with the music Keith had written for his own debut album & after seeing him play at The Marquee was rightly convinced they would make a great partnership in shaping her material. They would also become husband and wife remaining so up until Keith sadly passed in 2020. The 2 literally locked themselves away for a night in Gomelsky’s office & worked on the 8 tracks that would form ‘1969’. From the aforementioned opening track ‘A New Awakening’ it’s very clear that here is a woman literally declaring her new future, it’s right there in the lyrics ‘Today I woke up to many things’ ‘My day began in long confusion’ ‘And then we talked, you understood’ ‘I even starting feeling good’. I have picked those lines randomly, but they say it all. Starting with some accomplished strumming from Julie ‘A New Awakening’ is a complex & exciting start to the album with some searing electric guitar work from journeyman guitarist Chris Spedding, punctuated with horns quite reminiscent of something you would hear from the likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears. By the time the track has finished all thought of the ‘albatross’ that was TWOF has disappeared in a seismic shift. Track 2, the haunting & beautiful ‘Those That We Love’ is a gentle, intricate number by contrast, yet still leading us firmly into new territory. Track 3 ‘Leaving It All Behind’ with a wonderful Oboe part is self explanatory in it’s title as we continue on Julie’s new journey of personal & musical discovery. It’s with the arrival of Track 4 ‘Break Out’ that all thoughts of her previous path are now well behind us. It’s a standout track, ‘It’s a long road, when do we reach our goal’ it asks in its opening line before moving into a melodic mid-tempo number which becomes quite mesmeric & dreamy, only to be shattered about 3 minutes in by one of the most striking swooping vocal parts I’ve ever experienced, quite extraordinary, there’s some great guitar work from Jim Cregan also in the mix. Track 5 ‘The Choice’ is again a title that says it all as Julie has a dialogue with herself that we can all relate to in our personal lives. It’s probably my favourite track on the album. Track 6 ‘Lullaby’ is just that, a soft & wistful song with some very appealing acoustic guitar from Julie overlaying a delicately delicious vocal. Track 7 ‘Walk Down’ we are now moving towards the end of our journey as Julie reminds us to ‘stay on the path that leads to our goal’, the musical arrangement by husband Keith is exemplary & i love the imagery & stunning quality of Julie’s vocal performance. Track 8 ‘I Nearly Forgot – But I Went Back’ draws the album to a close in fine fashion as Julie basically sums up what has gone before, with at times some, to my mind, allusions to a past psychedelic world. It’s been a treat & a fascinating listen, & one that i have thoroughly enjoyed, I will always love her previous work with Steampacket & Brian Auger, however if it came to repeated listening i would chose this album. In keeping with her new direction the album cover is plain with no picture of that beautiful face to distract one, a move that was surely deliberate. Esoteric Records have done a fine job with the remastering & the sound is excellent. It’s accompanied by an informative booklet, with a shortish essay & full musical credits & song lyrics. ‘1969’ was supposed to be released as it’s title suggests that same year. However due to the collapse of Marmalade Records didn’t see the light of day until 1971. It may be over 50 years old but it could have been made yesterday, it’s theme is eternal. Enjoy

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Til next time….stay safe & well……Colin  

Mick O’Dowd… Unfortu natel never got to hear much of her myself after TWOF! She was an exceptional talent but again was totally overlooked. I believe that our own Tony Bird played with Brian Auger at one time. Correct me if i’m wrong Tony.

Reid McDuffie… She was my first crush…. remember her clearly grooving while Auger soloed manically. 1969 is a great record, I spin it often

Alan Esdaile… Remember hearing This Wheels On Fire for the first time and had to rush out and buy it. Impressed with the label ‘Marmalade’ which came in a purple cover and trippy logo, when most other labels were pretty plain. And then when I saw her on top of the pops, Wow!