SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Once Upon A Time In The West Midlands – The Bostin’ Sounds Of Brumrock 1966-1974, 3CD Box Set Various Artists

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST MIDLANDS  – THE BOSTIN’ SOUNDS OF BRUM ROCK 1966-1974   (3CD SET)  Various Artists
I’ve been looking forward to this release for some time. Whenever we start talking about the 60’s and the leading bands and artists its inevitable we will start talking about Liverpool, Merseybeat and The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Cilla etc, followed by Manchester with The Hollies, The Dakotas, Georgie Fame, Hermans Hermits, Barclay James Harvest etc and of course London at the very heart of things which spawned 100’s if not 1000’s of bands. But as Merseybeat began to wane in the mid 60’s and the ‘beat’ scene in general, another city was on the way up bursting with talent and boasting some musicians destined to be at the forefront of the music scene, some to this present day. That city was Birmingham and this new 3CD box set is devoted as the title says to ‘Brum Rock’.  When you start to list just some of the main acts you can hear on this new compilation you begin to appreciate just how much influence these artists have had on the world. So who do we have in the main league? The 2 most obvious ones are a pair of guys who couldn’t work together eventually, but between them created some of the greatest and much loved music of all time. I speak of course of Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne. Roy as any rock fan knows came to prominence with his band The Move in 1966 which Jeff was to join briefly before the pair of them started the Electric Light Orchestra and then due to musical differences went their separate ways with Roy forming Wizzard and Jeff developing ELO into the monster success it became. When i think of Birmingham its Roy and Jeff that first enter my mind swiftly followed by a man who fronted another huge band from the city. The Moody Blues, with original lead singer (and old friend) of many years Denny Laine. Everybody is familiar with Denny’s lead vocal on ‘Go Now’ (not included here) but when he went solo he made a record that became the inspiration for a 15 year old schoolboy to get in the music business. That 15 year old was me and the record was ‘Say You Don’t Mind’ which is included on this compilation which i am so pleased to see, as the original version has been incredibly hard to find over the years since it was initially released in 1967. It became a bigger hit when Colin Blunstone recorded it a few years later and he did a great job, but Denny’s original is sublime. I could write pages on just Roy, Jeff & Denny but with space limited let’s have a peek disc by disc at some of the great music and artistes to be found. Disc1 contains tracks from the previously mentioned heavy hitter’s such as The Move ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ alongside Jeffy Lynne’s band The Idle Race with the catchy psyche pop ‘Imposters Of Life Magazine’. ‘Life’s Not Life’ from The Moody Blues and Denny’s ‘Say You Don’t Mind’. Other big names abound with The Spencer Davis Group ‘Moonshine’ their spin off band Traffic with one of my all time favourite numbers of theirs ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’. The Rockin Berries follow with the seldom heard ‘Yellow Rainbow’ and Chicken Shack weigh in with ‘When The Train Comes Back’. Notable mentions go to 2 more less familiar bands in the shape of Locomotive with the excellent ‘Mr Armageddon’ and The Uglys with ‘I’ve Seen The Light’. It’s also great to see tracks from The Move’s guitarist Ace Kefford after he left to go solo. Disc2 headliners include The Climax Chicago Blues Band, Medicine Head, Trapeze & Big Bertha who collectively may not have shifted records in the quantities that the main artists on Disc1 did but they all have loyal fans and followers. Scattered throughout the disc are also some previously unissued gems including the delightful ‘Dance In The Smoke’ from Kansas Hook, a band that arose from the ashes of The World of Oz, another favourite band of mine who released the psyche/pop near hit ‘The Muffin Man’, i recently wrote about elsewhere. The World of Oz also feature in their own right on the compilation with ‘Like A Tear’. Other tracks that stand out come from acts Tea And Symphony, The Californians, Bakerloo & Cathedral with the previously unreleased ‘Its A Hard Way’. Disc3 gives us the debut hit from Roy and Jeffs baby, ELO, with what would become the bands signature set closer, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, nestling alongside this is Roy’s undoubted homage to all things Phil Spector/Wall Of Sound with ‘Ball Park Incident’ which is nice to see, rather than the usually compiled ‘See My Baby Jive’.  Roy also features solo with his wistful rendition ‘Dear Elaine’. Slade crop up with a track i confess i’ve never heard before in ‘One Way Hotel’ which catches them in 1970 on the cusp of breaking through. The ever satisfying Steve Gibbons features with ‘Brown Girl’ & another favourite appears with Jim Capaldi and ‘Eve’. Proto metal rockers Judas Priest join the party with ‘Rocka Rolla’ a quite restrained rocker given their usual fare. The compilation climaxes with the aptly titled ‘Bye Bye Birmingham’ a rocker from Blackfoot Sue, best known for their hit ‘Standing In The Road’ but proving here they were a more than competent good time rock band. All told this 3CD set runs to over 4 hours, containing 69 tracks and i have only featured just some of my personal highlights. As ever, this release from the excellent Grapefruit Records, comes housed in a sturdy clamshell box complete with a 48 page booklet with a wealth of information and artwork. I’m sure the good folk from Birmingham and the West Midlands particularly will love this new package and look back lovingly on their local bands, but those local bands grew in many instances to be known all over the world and are right up there with anything Liverpool, Manchester & London produced. I’ll leave you with the record that started it all for me. Here’s Denny. Enjoy.

For more information contact… https://www.cherryred.co.uk

Til next time……stay safe…..Colin

Leigh Mitchell… as always, very interesting…..xx

Alan Esdaile… Look what I found! Colin and Denny Laine.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Drifters: We Gotta Sing – The Soul Years 1962-1971, 3CD Box Set

WE GOTTA SING! THE SOUL YEARS (1962-1971)    The Drifters (3CD SET)

Does the world need another Drifters compilation you may ask? There are dozens available its true. Most of them are ‘Best Ofs’ or ‘Greatest Hits’ which are fine i have a couple myself.  Well i would say the answer is yes, if like me you are a true fan. This new 3CD set from Strawberry Records boasts 76 tracks, including 5 unissued songs long deleted from available CD’s. Plus 2 tracks ‘I Dig Your Act’ & ‘You And Me Together Forever’ which were thought to be lost making their worldwide debut here on this collection. Over the years i have written thousands of words about the institution that is The Drifters and i have been very fortunate at different times to have worked with Ben E King & Johhny Moore. If for some reason you are new to The Drifters they were formed the year after i was born in 1953 and must now qualify for the world’s longest running band. Originally fronted by Clyde McPhatter they were 50’s R&B Stars. The story of the band is a long and complicated one and one i have told before so let’s confine ourselves to this release. The band really can be thought of in terms like a sandwich divided into 3 parts. The bottom slice being their early R&B years from 1953-1960, the top slice their re-incarnation in 1972 when they relocated to London and had a string of pop/soul hits and the meat in the middle is their glorious years contained here, with a title that does what it says on the tin. What i really like about this new compilation is that the tracks appear in chronological order, something i am always a big fan of when a project like this is put together. It allows the listener to grow with the band and hear them change and mature rather than the aforementioned ‘Best Of’s’ etc that tend to leap about all over the place in time and often make for a jarring listen. Disc1 contains 25 tracks and contains some of my favourite early soul tracks ‘Only In America’ ‘Rat Race’ ‘Vaya Con Dios’ & ‘One Way Love’ (which most people know from the hit version recorded by Cliff Bennett) sit alongside the classics ‘Up On The Roof’ ‘Under The Boardwalk’ mono & stereo mixes, ‘On Broadway’ studio & live recordings & ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’. Lead vocal duties are shared by Rudy Lewis & Johnny Moore. Everyone has their own favourite lead singer when it comes to The Drifters. For me it will always be Johnny Moore, they all have their different distinctive styles. but for me Johnny’s seemingly effortless delivery has always captivated me the most, and having had the privilege to know him i admit to also being swayed by what a really lovely guy he was. Disc2 Kicks off with the gorgeous ‘Spanish Lace’ followed by ‘The Christmas Song’, which to be honest i don’t recall hearing before but features a sublime vocal performance by Johnny, indeed it may be one of his very best ever. Other familiar favourites to me are ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I’ ‘As Long As She needs Me’ & ‘Looking Through The Eyes Of Love’ (probably better known to people through Gene Pitney’s hit version). The 2 absolute ‘classic’ hits on this disc are probably in my all time top 5 of all their hits and are records i have played at my gigs thousands of times they are, ‘Come On Over To My Place’ & ‘At The Club’ (in both mono & stereo mixes). Disc3 begins with my all time favourite single 1965’s ‘I’ll Take You Where The Musics Playing’ its the epitome of Johnny Moore at his effortless finest and has always lifted my spirits every time i’ve ever played it. Track 4 is another track i’ve always loved in ‘Up In The Streets Of Harlem’ others are ‘Memories Are Made Of This’ ‘Aretha’ & ‘Baby What I Mean’. Its here on this disc you can also hear the 2 tracks making their debut i referred to at the start. The enduring success of The Drifters wasn’t just down to their peerless singing. They also benefitted from material written by some of the best songwriters in the world Goffin/King, Ellie Greenwich, Bacharach/David, Pomus/Shuman and one of my own favourite combinations in Mann/Weil (The Crystals/The Ronettes/Righteous Brothers). They have now been making music for an incredible 7 decades. You may be a fan of their early years or of the catchy poppier years in the 1970’s, but it would be a brave person that argued against this compilation representing their finest work. The decade this covers from 1962-71 truly was the soul years and with Rudy & Johnny at the helm was a magical time. The compilation comes in a sturdy box with a very well researched and detailed booklet and the sound quality throughout is excellent, Due to space constraints i have only scratched the surface of all the joy that is waiting to be had, listening to all the wonderful treats contained here. Enjoy.

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…..stay safe….Colin

Colin Norton… Great album!

Mick O’Dowd… Love it. Love them!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Hot Chocolate: The RAK Singles, 4CD Box Set

THE RAK SINGLES     Hot Chocolate   (4CD Box Set)
Here is the latest in Cherry Red’s 7T’s label series ‘Singles’ collections and what a treat it is. Featuring every single A & B side the boys recorded for Mickie Most’s RAK label this is a 5 star release. The statistics around the band are quite amazing, especially nowadays when ‘sales’ are entirely differently counted. For a decade and a half Hot Chocolate had an unbroken run of chart singles, 29 Top 40 hits, 12 Top Tens and the No 1 ‘So You Win Again’. Looking back and listening to this fine collection i am constantly surprised they only ever made the top spot once. The sheer consistency and quality of their writing and musicianship is quite extraordinary.  Altogether if you add it up the band spent 5 years in the charts making them one of the most successful pop acts of all time. It’s easy to forget just how many great songs they produced, as i’m sitting here listening i keep nodding my head and saying to myself ‘what a great record, forgotten about that one’. You may consider 4 CD’s and 72 tracks a lot to digest but trust me its not. Disc’s 1 & 2 are absolutely essential listening and for me personally contain my favourite tracks right from the opener ‘Love Is Life’ which i so clearly remember getting a promo single of back in 1970 through ‘You Could Have Been A Lady’, ‘I Believe In Love’ You’ll Always Be A Friend’ the memories flood back. However it’s 2 tracks in particular that stand out for their experimentation and boldness ‘Brother Louie’ with its biting social comment on interracial relationships, sadly still relevant in some quarters today. Followed by the epic ‘Rumours’ with its stabbing ‘Shaft’ style guitar riff. Both these songs run for between 4 and 5 minutes which defied the perceived wisdom that anything longer than 2m30s would lose listener interest, well Errol & Co certainly blew that argument out of the water.  And for music trivia fans both Brother Louie & Rumours contained one Cozy Powell on drums. This doesn’t surprise me as Cozy was signed to Mickie Most (owner of RAK Records) at the time and he (Mickie) wouldn’t have missed a chance to employ Cozy on the tracks, no doubt for free….The other highlight of Disc 1 for me is definitely ‘Emma’ another beautifully crafted ‘story’ song penned by Brown & Wilson and featuring my old friend and RAK labelmate on backing vocals Suzi Quatro. Disc2 kicks off with the uptempo ‘Cheri Babe’ which is one of those aforementioned tracks i had forgotten about as is the second single ‘Blue Night’ however the ‘B’ side of the latter song was to become more famous, or should that be infamous? it was ‘You Sexy Thing’. More hits follow with ‘Disco Queen’ ‘A Childs Prayer’ before RAK realised the potential of ‘You Sexy Thing’ and released a newly tweaked version as an ‘A’ side. I don’t know about you but YST is probably my least favourite HC song, nothing wrong with it, but i have listener ‘fatigue’ it remains the most played HC track on radio due to the (mostly) unimaginative minds of station programmers, and sadly will probably be the track the band will always be remembered for, when as already demonstrated they had so much more to give. Disc3 contains another bold move with the 6 minute opener ‘Put Your Love In Me’, classics follow rapidly with ‘Every 1’s A Winner’ ‘I’ll Put You Together Again’ (another personal favourite), ‘Mindless Boogie’ ‘Going Through The Motions’ and as the 80’s dawned a song i’m very attached to ‘No Doubt About It’. In the late 70’s i lived in Finchley where coming home in the early hours of the morning one day i swore i saw an UFO in the sky towards Hampstead Heath (i did honestly!) Remarkably i only learnt years later that the writers of ‘No Doubt About It’ which dealt with an alien encounter were inspired by seeing the same ‘UFO’ i did in the same time and place! Yea, vindicated! Right moving on, other tracks on Disc3 include ‘Are You Getting Enough’ ‘Love Me To Sleep’ & ‘Losing You’. The final Disc4 starts to run a little out of steam, but not by much, biggies still abound with the likes of ‘Girl Crazy’ ‘It Started With A Kiss’ ‘What Kinda Boy You Lookin For’ & ‘I Gave You My Heart Didn’t I’. I’m a big fan of these compilations that run chronologically as they give you the chance to hear whoever the band are progressing and evolving and refining their material. In Hot Chocolate you had a band who never dropped their quality level and achieved massive success in countries all over the world. This new compilation housed in a sturdy clamshell box with an excellent and informative booklet is the best compilation of HC’s work i’ve seen, there are other ‘Best Of’s’ etc but many miss off the early tracks. This is THE only collection you will ever need. Enjoy.
for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……..stay safe…….Colin

Mick O’Dowd… What a cracker this release is Colin! Always loved them from when they first appeared as The Hot Chocolate Band on Apple Records with “Give Peace a Chance” (Yes that one). I believe there were 2 versions of Could Have Been A Lady. The original was tweaked to make it more funky sounding. So many hits. So many memories. Always remember Centre Page performing Everyone’s A Winner. Like you, Colin, Emma & No Doubt About It were my faves although it’s so hard picking faves from a track list like this.

Colin Bell… Mick, Hi mate, yes there were 2 versions as you say. They had such a consistently high standard its as you also say so hard to pick a fave! This is one of the most enjoyable compilations i have ever reviewed.

Stephen Singleton… One of the best bands ever ! Incredible songwriters and musicians . Also brilliant in concert . I’ll be ordering this monster

Alan Esdaile… Some really great tracks and always excellent live but never seemed to be given the credit they deserve.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Beyond The Pale Horizon – The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1972, 3CD Box Set Various Artists

BEYOND THE PALE HORIZON   The British Progressive Pop Sounds of 1972  (3CD Set)

I always look forward to the latest compilation from Grapefruit Records and as ever this one doesn’t disappoint. Focusing on a narrow slice of time in this case just 1 year as the title proclaims could result with scratching around to find enough good material to fill 3 CD’s and over 4 hours of listening. Happilly this is not the case here. There is plenty to enjoy ranging from well known names to the obscure and tracks that haven’t seen the light of day previously. The jumping off point for choosing to feature 1972 is predicated on the compilers belief that was the year that art rock darlings Roxy Music pioneered a new musical movement that finally left the 60’s firmly behind and created the first genuine ‘new’ music. I have some sympathy with that point of view and i can see where the premise holds water. So what and who do we have? Well, Disc1 kicks off with a much beloved underground band, trying to be a bit more commercial in Van Der Graaf Generator with ‘Theme One’ before segueing into the aforementioned art rockers Roxy Music with their debut hit ‘Virginia Plain’, followed by another classic with Argents ‘Hold Your Head Up’ a very good start. Many more delights follow,  the highlights for me being ‘The Very First Clown’ by Shape Of The Rain whose excellent and long neglected album i reviewed last year. The Move weigh in with one of my favourite tracks of theirs in ‘Do Ya’ and great to see Nazareth, a severely underrated band in my view putting in an appearance with ‘Fool About You’. Elsewhere on Disc 1 you can find the sublime Byzantium, college favourites Stackridge, plus Caravan, The Moody Blues, Glam rockers Mott The Hoople with Honaloochie Boogie, a nice change from the over compiled ‘All The Young Dudes’ plus some nuggets from the likes of Pagliaro, Open Road & Eddie Hardin. Other big hitters include Yes, The Strawbs & a slice of Slade. Disc2 gets off in fine style with the album version of ELO’s ‘10538 Overture’ followed by one of my very favourite Free tracks with ‘Little Bit Of Love’, i’ve always loved the vocals & drums hugely. There are many tracks new to me and a joy to discover including offerings by bands, Tuesday, Silverhead, Pluto & Cold Turkey. Mainstream acts are well represented by Family with ‘Burlesque’ (Roger Chapman at his best), The Bonzo’s ‘King Of Scurf’, Uriah Heep ‘Traveller In Time’ (another favourite), Medicine Head & Lindisfarne with the glorious ‘All Fall Down’.  Surprises come in the shape of obscure tracks by the unlikely inclusion of The Troggs & White Plains, the latter was a real surprise to me. Disc3 Again opens with a classic Thin Lizzys ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ swiftly followed by Status Quo having dumped their psychedelic pop for the boogie rock of ‘Paper Plane’. 3 bands turn up on this disc that i have long forgotten but am delighted to be reminded of in the shape of Trapeze, Andromeda & Jade Warrior, i used to listen to the latter a lot back in the day.  There are again new names (to me) to discover such as Atlantis, Hobbit & Hard Stuff & more familar well known names such as Hawkwind, with the inevitable ‘Time Machine’, Roy Wood, Kevin Coyne & Curved Air. Running to 65 tracks this compilation will keep you interested over its 4 hour length as you weave between the comfortably familiar and the ‘what was that’?! As ever the accompanying 40 page booklet is superb, packed with info and images and the whole compilation comes packed in a sturdy clamshell box denoting the quality we have come to expect and receive from Grapefruit Records. All in all it’s reminded me what a good year 1972 was. Mission accomplished. Enjoy.

For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…..stay safe…..Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Sockin’ It To You by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (3CD deluxe digipak)

SOCKIN’ IT TO YOU   Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels  (3CD deluxe digipak)
I am so pleased to receive this and bring it to you! Amongst some of the first promo singles I received in the second half of the 60’s was a single of ‘Jenny Take A Ride/C.C. Rider’ by then unknown to me band Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Its impact on me was immediate, the record was just bursting out of the speakers with an energy that crackled and fizzed like nothing i’d heard in a long time I became a fan there and then and played the record tirelessly at my mobile disco gigs, if you didn’t want to get up and dance to it you had no pulse! Now RPM Records have released this collection and what a collection it is. Five albums, single’s, non Lp sides and tracks making their CD debut here. All of this material was recorded between 1966 – 1969 for the Bob Crewe owned Dynovoice and New Voice Recordings labels. Bob Crewe as you may know was a prolific (and hugely successful) producer for amongst many others The Four Seasons, The Toy’s and Lou Christie. Mitch & the Wheels had been together for a few years at this point playing and paying their dues around the college/club circuit in the Detroit area, where they had earned a fine live reputation. Its fair to say when you mention Detroit your mind immediately turns to Motown who were producing so many hit singles and making stars of so many acts but if you were a rock orientated kid MR&TDW were THE band you were listening too. There was some crossover in that the band did cover Motown and James Brown, but in their own inimitable style. The next single that I loved was the mash up of Devil With A Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly another slice of pure energy. Now that’s twice (without apology) i’ve used the word ‘energy’ because that is the pure essence of the band, seldom have I ever heard that caught on record in the way that Mitch & the boys managed to do, the nearest comparison I can think of, is those early Geno Washington ‘live’ albums. Mitch’s blue eyed soul vocal, wicked guitar licks and bursts of brass get into you on a visceral level, your head starts to nod, your feet to move and you just tend to smile..a lot! There are so many great tracks on this 65 track definitive overview its impossible to have a favourite or pick out the ‘best’ cuts because the standard is just so consistently high, whether its old standards/favourites like ‘Shake A Tail Feather’, ‘Come See About Me’ ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ ‘Walkin The Dog’or Bob Crewe originals like ‘Sock It To Me’ ‘Shakedown’ ‘I’d Rather Go To Jail’ and ‘Wild Child’ all are delivered in such a satisfying fashion. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Bruce Springsteen live on four occasions (arguably the greatest live performer) and on two occasions he’s played, what he likes to call, ‘The Detroit Medley’ his own tribute to MR&TDW who he holds in the highest esteem, I think that’s praise indeed and quite rightly so. For some inexplicable reason the band are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when some lesser bands I could mention are, a travesty for sure and one which I hope Springsteen, and other high profile fans like Alice Cooper and Bob Seger apply pressure to put right. I have to add my own tribute in that ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ as written by the great Bill Medley and recorded by him and Bobby (Righteous Brothers) is covered and included on this set, and I never thought i’d say this, is bettered by Mitch and the boys, the highest praise I can give from me. Next week on Wednesday (26th) it’ll be Mitch’s birthday, he’ll be 75, and im pleased to say he’s still out there doing what he does best and long may that continue. Thank you RPM for issuing this package, the audio quality and liner notes impeccable as ever. I’ll leave you with this vid from 1966.,,,,,enjoy.

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk

Till next time……………………….. Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Highly underated band. Loved ’em!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Across the Great Divide – Getting It Together In The Country 1968-74, Various Artists, 3CD Boxset

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE – Getting It Together In The Country 1968-74  (3CD)    Various Artists
Following on from the other compilations, I’m A Freak, Lets Go Down and Blow our Minds etc (all reviewed on SMART) this is the latest offering from Grapefruit Records headed by the excellent David Wells who never ceases to come up with interesting and forgotten treasures.
As you might surmise from the (somewhat) cumbersome title, sorry David! this takes us back to the heady times of the late 60’s early 70’s when it was ‘fashionable’ to ‘get it together in the country’. Led by Stevie Winwood and Traffic I remember this movement being written about by the likes of NME and MM at the time. Encouraged by their lead a thousand and one bands, some well known and some doomed to obscurity decamped to deepest Berkshire (Traffic), Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Wales etc, well you get the picture. Away from the city and factory style recording studio’s bands attempted to live together commune style in the hope this combined with the rural pastoral pleasures of the countryside would ignite creative outpouring. Well for many it certainly did as they blended, rock, pop, folk and country to create a more laid back vibe. As mentioned Traffic paved the way with tracks like ‘Forty Thousand Headmen’ their entry here. There is a good smattering of the well known and ‘name bands’ spread across this 3CD boxset, Fairport Convention, Mott The Hoople, Rare Bird, Matthews Southern Comfort, Rod Stewart and Marmalade to name a few. But I hasten to add not with the familiar over compiled tracks. Indeed I have never heard ‘Louisiana Man’ by The Hollies (from 1969) a song apparently covered 800 times (some royalties there!) and very good it is too. I mentioned Mott The Hoople which instantly brings to mind ‘All The Young Dudes’ but their entry here from 1971 ‘ Home Is Where I Want To Be’ taken from the album ‘Wildlife’ owes more to Matthews Southern Comfort than Bowie and is just one example of the evolvement of some bands, fascinating. The second rank of bands, for want of a better term, is represented by Mighty Baby, Heron, Cochise, Brinsley Schwarz and Orange Bicycle, (a personal favourite), again to name but a few. Orange Bicycle (a localish band) track ‘Take Me To The PIlot’ (an Elton John cover) has long been a favoured cut with me having seen them perform it live a good few times. But away from the well and lesser known names is a plethora of gems to discover and savour, just some of my picks would be Shape of The Rain ‘Willowing Trees’, Tony Hazzard ‘Abbot Of The Vale’, High Broom ‘A Way To Pass The Time’, Northwind ‘Home For Frozen Roses’, Granny’s Intention’s ‘We Both Need To Know’ and Mason ‘Fading’, this last pick is a trio that includes Ian Amey (Tich) and John Dymond (Beaky) late of DD.D.B.M. & T. I’ve always felt that Ian in particular is a much overlooked and underrated guitarist with a very distinctive style. With 64 tracks and a wonderfully informative 44 page amply illustrated booklet this latest compilation may be the best yet in the series, you can almost smell the patchouli oli and grass, those were the days. I’ll leave you with a clip of one of the few well known tracks to be included by Marmalade as a tribute to lead vocalist Dean Ford who sadly left us at the turn of the year. RIP and thanks for the music. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk

Til next time…………………Colin

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Am I Dreaming? 80 Brit Girl Sounds Of The 60s. 3CD Set

AM I DREAMING?  80 BRIT GIRL SOUNDS OF THE 60’s    Various Artists 3CD Set

I’ve been looking forward to this release, definitely an early Christmas pressie for me. Solo and girl groups of the 60’s is one of my favourite genres. I guess most people’s minds would leap automatically to the sounds from over the pond from the Brill Building, Carole King, Shangri-La’s etc and Spectors Wall of Sound productions for The Ronettes, Crystals etc all timeless classics of course. But here in the UK we had an equally thriving ‘scene’ with many going on to be big names and some sadly disappearing without trace. This beautifully presented 3CD set from RPM is a finale to their very successful ‘Dream Babes’ series of compilations that ran from 1994 to 2007. If you already own any of these CD’s fear not none of the tracks are duplicated in this set which contains many rarities and some previously unissued material. The accompanying booklet by Ian Chapman and Bob Stanley tells the story in fine form along with some great photos. Just some of the ‘big’ names starting out on their careers are here in the shape of Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield (The Springfields), Kathy Kirby (a huge favourite of my dear old dad), Cilla Black, Jackie Trent, Elkie Brooks, Kiki Dee and Cloda (without the gh) Rodgers to name but a few. Fascinating to hear their evolution from their early recordings contained here. Away from these well known artists are the lesser remembered but in some cases equally great singers who had some success but didn’t make the leap to the big league but nevertheless left us some great singles, my personal choice being Billie Davis, Samantha Jones and Beryl Marsden who could belt out a great tune and should have had greater success but such is the fickleness of the record buying public then and now. A lot of the girls (and groups) were viewed as a bit of novelty fare at the time, and to be fair some were. However listening to the Vernon Girls of We Love The Beatles fame/infamy sing ‘Only You Can Do It’ on Disc One you realise they weren’t a million miles away from those aforementioned Brill Building girls when they had decent material. At 80 tracks there is so much to unearth and enjoy, it may not all be in the premier league but for anyone like me who loves this genre and time period its hard to fault. The breadth and scope on display is actually summed up wonderfully by the accompanying press release and for once I can’t better it in my own words ‘ beat girls, folk girls, hippy girls, mod girls,……………….Not forgetting Schoolgirls, secretaries, convent girls, actresses, daughters of diplomats and god daughters of royalty’!! Wonderful. You can have the fun of working out who is who!

I’ll leave it there with a YouTube clip of our late beloved Cilla getting Motown, and the back of the two heads watching the performance in the first 10 seconds belong to a coupla geezers called Paul and John….wonder what happened to them……….

For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk

This being the last SMART Sounds of this year, may I wish an early happy Christmas to all fellow Smarties and friends, see you in the New Year,

Til then………………….

Colin

Kinks – The Anthology 1964-1971 – 5CD Set released on Nov 18th 2014.

kinks-anthology

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/kinks-anthology/

What’s your favourite track or tracks?

Alan Esdaile… Probably about 20 I really love and start it off with Sunny Afternoon.

Nick Prince… wow. I like so many. Probably just Sunny Afternoon. Also love Come Dancing, Victoria. Dave’s Stan Laurel tribute. Death of a Clown. So, so many I really like. An amazing unique sound.

Gary Kinch… The first single I bought was apeman. But My personal favourite is Lola

Mick Mepham… The Village Green Preservation Society.

Geoff Peckham… Don’t You Fret.

Nick Prince… This is a must have 🙂

Mick O’Dowd… See my friends.You really gotta have it all day & all of the night.

Chris Sambrook… There are loads of Ray Davies songs, Dead end Street, See my Friend,Tired of waiting for you,Set me free,Till the end of the day ,Waterloo Sunset.,Sunny afternoon, All or the day and all of the night the second single [i believe this was banned by the the BBC, for being suggestive] , Till the end of the day and of course You really got me. So it goes on and on and on.

John Storer… The Kinks are one of those bands who everyone thinks were much more popular in the UK than they actually were, whereas the Americans loved them. Every album they made charted in the USA (their 1983 album “State of Confusion” got to No. 12 over there), whereas their last Top 40 album here was 1967! For me, “Tired of Waiting” was their best single.

Mick O’Dowd… On a Ray Davies cd “Story Teller” he tells the story of The Kinks. He says that the break in You Rally Got Me where it sounds like “Oh No!” was actually “F… Off!” See what you think.