SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Ray Fenwick: Playing Through The Changes – Anthology 1964-2020, 3CD

Playing Through The Changes : The Anthology (1964-2020)     RAY FENWICK
Released this Friday this compilation will be of interest to many, especially some from the local music scene. Where to start with Ray? Well firstly i’ve sadly not had the pleasure of meeting him, which given the amount of bands and projects he’s been involved in is surprising, however i know some of you reading this have, so any innaccuracies that follow are entirely mine and i’ll stand corrected. Ray is one of Rock’s supreme journeymen whose career has spanned over 6 decades and has encompassed a myriad of genres from Ska to Hard Rock. He is not only a gifted guitarist but also a singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and a noted session player. I strongly recommend that you follow the link to https://www.cherryred.co.uk at the conclusion of this piece for more information as i would need a book to do full justice to his story. In short he began playing guitar at an early age fully encouraged by his parents and by the age of 15 joined his first band Rupert & The Red Devils and though underage trod the established path to playing the seedy clubs of Germany & Holland where in the latter he would later play frequently having met & befriended Jan Akkerman & Focus. Returning to the UK he joined The Excels (formed by another Ex Red Devil) the infamous Don Arden became their booking agent and off they went to the South Of France to play on the more salubrious Riviera, making the acquaintance of Brigitte Bardot along the way (lucky man!). After this sortie he joined The Syndicats replacing the outgoing Steve Howe, then utilising his connections he moved on to Dutch band Tee Set. By 1967 he’d joined The Spencer Davis Group as they entered their second phase after the departure of Steve Winwood. I’m particularly fond of this period that started with ‘Time Seller’ as i really enjoyed the shift to psychedelia the band experimented with. Although Ray wasn’t on ‘Time Seller’ he did play on the excellent ‘Mr Second Class’. After 2 years with The SDG Ray was off again to pastures new with The ian Gillian Band via recording some sessions with Bo Diddley along the way. By 1974 he’d become part of rock band Fancy who had a surprise American hit with a cover of ‘Wild Thing’. Fancy were a group of session musicians put together by Ray’s long term mentor and friend celebrated music arranger Mike Hurst. In the eighties another of Ray’s projects would come together as Forcefield (in 3 incarnations) more of which later. As is plainly obvious Ray has been a very busy and ubiquitous figure in the industry and i’ve only really scratched the surface. This new release compiled with Ray’s full involvement consists of 3 CD’s containing 61 tracks housed in a very sturdy fold out digipack crammed with photo’s and an exhaustive booklet with tells the extensive story of this remarkable career. CD1 is rich with the many facets of Ray’s playing from the opener ‘Mercury High’ Gillan Band track through to Ska represented by The South Coast Ska Stars ‘Range Rider’ the groove laden rock of Fancy & ‘She’s Ridin The Rock Machine’, Spencer Davis, Rupert & The Red Devils, Eddie Hardins ‘Wind In The Willows’ Ray’s sublime take on The Shadow’s ‘Apache’ and joy of joy’s the mod revival sound of old friend Tich Turner’s Escalator ‘Are You Wiv’ are just some of the other delights and highlights. CD2 is more rock and project orientated kicking off with Forcefield’s (Mk1) cover of ‘Smoke On The Water’ (a track we’ll return to at the conclusion). Artists featured include Tee-Set, David Coverdale, Roger Glover (& friends) Eddie Hardin’s Wizard Convention, Forcefield (Mk2), Hardin & York & Graham Bonnet. And if you are someone reading this who thinks  i haven’t been aware of Ray through all these tracks, well maybe, but you will have heard him as a kid growing up if you watched kids TV as he also co-wrote the theme to ‘Magpie’ included here, boy has this guy been prolific. CD3 is another eclectic mix featuring the Ian Gillian Band, Forcefield (Mk3), Eddie Hardin, Mike Hurst, Spencer Davis, Bo Diddley, a wonderful version of Mason Williams ‘Classical Gas’ featuring Cozy Powell and 2 tracks from Ray Fenwicks White Lightning ‘Shine It On Me’ & ‘Mail Box’ both featuring our very own local lad Pete Prescott on lead vocals (there’s a rather endearing photo of the band featured on the inside of the compilation….hair metal rules!). It’s Pete that gets the final word on this marvellous compilation. I rang him as i was somewhat puzzled as to why any band would record a cover version of the iconic ‘Smoke On The Water’ (as referred to earlier kicking off CD2 as Forcefield), doing it as a live number i could understand, i’ve heard a million rock bands do that. But to record it is surely superfluous?. Over to Pete, it came about when he was living and gigging in Switzerland in the mid-80’s where he made the acquaintance of one of the singers from the band The Far Corporation who had a hit in 1985 by covering LZ’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (masterminded by Boney M creator and producer Frank Farian). spurred on by this if you can cover an iconic song like that…so Ray, with an eye on the Japanese market (who love their metal) invited Pete, Cozy etc to Catsfield Studio’s where he was working to record SMOTW. So that’s answered that, thanks Pete. I apologise for my lack of Forcefield knowledge! So in conclusion, this is a fascinating collection of work spanning a remarkable career and space has precluded me from all the story but i trust i have whetted your appetite. Ray has been an influence and a helping hand to many a musician local and otherwise and Lemon Records have done a fine job with this package celebrating his many talents. Enjoy.

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

Till next time, stay safe…Colin

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing Hello: The Singles Collection 2CD

THE COMPLETE SINGLES COLLECTION    Hello   (2CD set 7T’s Records)
Following in the footsteps of 60’s footstompers The Dave Clark 5 the 4 lads that formed Hello also came from Tottenham, North London.

They were Bob Bradbury (lead vocalist/guitar), Keith Marshall (lead guitar), Vic Faulkner (bass) & Jeff Allen (drums). All born in 1956 they got together as 12 year olds in 1968 calling themselves ‘The Age’ In 1970 they briefly took on their agents daughter Caroline who became their lead singer and were billed as Caroline Hall & The Age. During that year they performed in front of The Queen at the Albert Hall and made an appearance on popular ITV kids show ‘Magpie’. In early 1971 Caroline left and the 4 lads went it alone attracting the attention of Argent member and songwriter Russ Ballard and also gaining an experienced music business man David Blaylock as their manager.  Their debut single was going to be Ballards ‘Can’t Let You Go’ but they were pipped to the post by Barry Ryan’s recording of the song which became a minor hit for him. Instead they released another Ballard composition ‘You Move Me’ in April 1972, a lightweight uptempo pop song which got them on TV’s ‘Lift Off’ (remember Ayshea?). It failed to trouble the charts but it got their faces into the ‘teenybopper’ mags that were popular then like Record Mirror. Their second single in October 72 was another Ballard song ‘C’Mon’ another straightforward upbeat. lightweight pop ditty, with a touch of ‘Crazy Horses’ guitar work. However this too failed to chart for the 4 new school leavers. In May & June of the following year their profile was greatly increased when they became a regular support act for their labelmate and then king of Glam Rock Gary Glitter. This is when i first remember them from, as myself & Chris Gentry were working with Glitter at that time.  Their next single was going to be Dyna-Mite but this ultimately went to Mud and Glitter’s producer Mike Leander was brought on board to fashion a hit sound for the band. The influence of Leander/Glitter was evidenced on their next release’s ‘Another School Day’ & ‘C’Mon Get Together’, neither of which gave them their breakthrough. The band then fell back on an industry favourite by looking for a previous hit record they could revamp in their style. They chose the catchy ‘Tell Him’ a hit for The Exciters & Billie Davis. The single released in August 1974 proved a slow burner but eventually by November it rose to peak at No 6. At last they had a hit, the follow up continued the Glitter connection with The Glitterband’s lead guitarist Gerry Shephard penned ‘Game’s Up’, this however only ‘bubbled under’ the charts for a few weeks in the UK, but was more successful across Europe, especially in Germany (where the band remained popular for years). In May 1975 the band tried another re-tread of a previous hit. This time they chose the Amen Corner/American Breed song ‘Bend Me Shape Me’, however unlike ‘Tell Him’ this failed to repeat the trick and only became a moderate hit in Germany. It was beginning to look a downward slope when the band were handed what would become their ‘magnum opus’ the Russ Ballard composed ‘New York Groove’. Released in August 1975 it took a while again but rose into the Top 10 in October. It’s now probably the main song/reason the band are remembered for, finding it’s way onto dozens of compilation’s and being successfully covered by Ace Frehley of Kiss fame. Despite valiant attempts the band couldn’t come up with another hit and by 1976 they were becoming (along with many others) an anachronism as Punk arrived sweeping away all that remained of the pop rock/glam bands. The band would limp on til the end of the 70’s changing labels in the process but eventually called it a day. This new 40 track compilation from 7T’s Records brings together all their singles for the first time together with a couple of bonus solo tracks by drummer Jeff Allen. It comes complete with a detailed booklet and some nostalgic record cover images. Unlike other Glam Rock band’s, Sweet being the best example. Hello didn’t really evolve or move away from their lightweight roots, which leaves this release, in my view, with a somewhat limited appeal and as such will probably be best enjoyed by completists and lovers of the Glam Rock years.

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

Til next time…….stay safe……Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Crikey! Didn’t realise they had enough tunes to fill 1 CD let alone 2. Couple of good covers and that was it

Colin Bell… Hi Mate, i have to say you are largely right, there is nothing wrong with the other tracks, but they don’t really jump out at you.

Alan Esdaile… I remember interviewing the singer for Melody Maker and all I could think of, was god, I’ve never seen another person as thin as that!

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing Oh! You Pretty Things: Glam Queens And Street Urchins 1970-76: 3CD Various Artists

Oh! You Pretty Things: Glam Queens & Street Urchins 1970-76 (3CD set)   Various Artists

So here is the latest in Grapefruit Records ever excellent series of themed 3CD box sets. It is very rare that i quote from a Press Release, but on this occasion….’We focus on the twin central strands of Glam Rock: the cerebral and the visceral’ Ok we’ll see about that and also the other claim of examining the link between the ‘seedy’ played out London scene of the early 70’s and it’s comparison with the underbelly of New York of the same period.  CD 1 gets off on a ‘cerebral’ foot with Roxy Music & their follow up to debut hit ‘Virginia Plain’ in the shape of ‘Pyjamarama’ whose delights i must confess to having forgotten but it’s a pleasant reminder of 1973 for this reviewer. Next up is ELO and here i must question what they are doing here?, i really don’t see them as any part of ‘Glam’ and the choice of Ma-Ma-Ma-Belle is jarring being without doubt the ‘heaviest’ rock track the band ever recorded. It is however certainly ‘visceral’.  Anyway a small niggle. Much more suited to the albums theme are the likes of Be Bop Deluxe, Sparks, Heavy Metal Kids, Blackfoot Sue & Mick Ronson who as well as featuring in his own right with the track ‘White Light, White Heat’ Mick is to be found alongside Mott The Hoople’s ex frontman Ian Hunter with ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ taken from one of my all time favourite albums 1975’s ‘You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic’ (Best album title ever). Dana Gillespie’s ‘Andy Warhol’ & The Hollywood Brats ‘Tumble With Me’ are suitably camp & sleazy respectively. On to CD2 which opens with another well loved track of mine with everybody’s favourite Glam rockers Slade and the anthemic ‘Take Me Bak’Ome’, although Mr Holder has never cared for the ‘Glam’ label. Other big names, albeit with lesser known tracks featured are Curved Air, Bryan Ferry, Iggy & The Stooges’ & Lou Reed with ‘Satellite Of Love’. There are some rare delights to be had with Tim Curry’s ‘ Sweet Transvestite’ & Wayne County’s ‘Queenage Baby’, an artist i have always enjoyed as Wayne or Jayne. Another band i have a lot of time for Third World War also weigh in with ‘Rat Crawl’ and the rather clever inclusion of an unexpected Trogg’s track ‘Strange Movies’ is welcome. The CD closes with Sweet at their best bridging the gap between the pop of Chinnichap & their move to self written material with one of their greatest singles ‘The Sixteens’. CD3 plunges us straight into the New York scene with the primary, and yes again ‘visceral’ New York Dolls and ‘Personality Crisis’. This of all the 3 discs contains the mostly undiscovered gems from some rarely heard bands such as The Winkies, Bullfrog, Hard Stuff & a band i confess i’ve never heard of by the name of Fumble with their very individual take on ‘Not Fade Away’ which is somewhat glorious in a surreal sort of way! Of the bigger and well known names to be found are The Strawbs, Leo Sayer, Mott The Hoople & another crowd pleaser The Sensational Alex Harvey Band with the 7 minute wonder that is ‘The Last Of The Teenage Idols’ which i’ve always thought was a real tour-de-force of a song. At 66 tracks there is plenty to explore in this compilation and if you were around the first time to witness the likes of Bowie and all the androgynous acts that followed in his & The New York Dolls footsteps you will enjoy this latest collection enormously. As ever the 3CD’s come housed in a sturdy clamshell box with an accompanying well written 40 page booklet. Grapefruit Records remain the current masters of the themed compilation market. Enjoy.

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

Til next time…..stay safe………Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Marc Almond: The Stars We Are, 2CD/1DVD

THE STARS WE ARE   Marc Almond (2CD/1DVD)

It’s not often i stray into the 80’s in these pages as generally speaking it’s probably my least favourite decade for music. However there are always exceptions of course and one of those is Marc Almond, I’ve always thought he was a strong singer with a very powerful and distinctive vocal. Whether it be in Soft Cell or solo i pretty much love all his work. Originally released in 1988 ‘The Stars We Are’ was Marc’s 4th solo album containing 10 tracks. This excellent new package from SFE Records brings together those original tracks on Disc 1 and expands the content with the cassette only and ‘b’ side tracks. Disc 2 features all the expanded and re-mixes of the tracks known to exist, 11 tracks in all and in conclusion Disc 3 is a very welcome bonus DVD bringing together 6 Promo videos. Kicking off the whole set with the title song on Disc 1 finds Marc in his very best Torch singer (no pun intended!) vein, the song reminds me of something Scott Walker would have recorded with its big brassy background and vocals soaring and it’s a great start. It’s more in the same mode with ‘These My Dreams Are Yours’ on track 2 with another big bold ballad. Things turn more straightforwardly pop with ‘Bitter Sweet’, whilst proceedings get intense with ‘Your Kisses Burn’ featuring Nico, a moody and dramatic piece i’ve always loved which also turned out sadly to be Nico’s last ever recording. Moving on we get to the first of 2 singles that brought Marc firmly back into the limelight. First up is ‘Tears Run Rings’ a straightforward slice of pop that takes you back to the glory days of Soft Cell. However it was Marc’s inspired idea to record ‘Somethings Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ with it’s original singer the late great Gene Pitney that paid off big time becoming a No 1 hit for 4 consecutive weeks in 1989. Whenever i hear this or see them perform it i can never escape the feeling they are both trying to upstage the other but in a good way, it’s a perfect blend of two voices and all credit to Marc whose choice of revitalising old classic songs is always impeccable, i also admired his take on ‘Days Of Pearly Spencer. But back to the album in hand, as i mentioned Disc 2 is a treasure trove of extended and remixed versions featuring 2 mixes of ‘Tears Run Rings’ with both the 12inch and Dance versions. My favourite here though has to be the melodramatic Blue Mosque Mix of the wonderful ‘She Took My Soul In Istanbul’ a gloriously moody. evocative track that conjures up that fascinating East meet West city beautifully. Together with Soft Cells extended version of Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ i think it’s Marc at his finest. As aforementioned Disc 3 gives you the chance to revisit the 80’s and watch the contemporary promotional video’s including 2 versions of ‘Tears Run Rings’, one for the US market and of course that duet with Gene Pitney. The accompanying 36 page booklet is beautifully put together with a wealth of photo’s, song lyrics and essays. Altogether this remains for me probably the best solo album Marc produced and now it’s ‘gone large’ with all the extra’s it’s a real musical feast. I’ll leave you with that No 1. Enjoy.

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

Til next time, stay safe and well………Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Belfast Gypsies: Them Belfast Gypsies CD

BELFAST GYPSIES: THEM BELFAST GYPSIES CD

Ok, let’s clear up the title and band of this release before we progress any further. At first glance of the album cover it would be taken for granted this is an early album by Belfast r’n’b band THEM and its entitled ‘Belfast Gypsies’ given their look etc. NO. The whole saga of this release is told in a superb and comprehensive essay over 16 pages by the label boss David Wells to whom i take my (metaphorical) hat off.

It is a tale, typical in many respects of the 60’s, of dodgy managers, greedy Record Companies and a whole host of ‘shifty’ characters that swim around the shark infested waters of the music industry. It is a very interesting story particularly for those of us on the inside, however to keep things relatively simple….think of this album as a Them album minus Van Morrison containing members of the original band. The use of the ‘THEM’ lettering is a cynical Record Company ploy (then, not now!) to appeal and catch the eye of fans of the original Van Morrison led band. So to sum up the release is called Them Belfast Gypsies all in one sentence. The album was recorded in May & June 1966 in London and Copenhagen after the departure of Van for America. Lead vocals were taken by Pat (aka) John McAuley, a quick snatch of which could be mistaken for Van the Man, but not for long, Pat/John has a more nasally/raucous/frenzied delivery than his ex bandmate. The album kicks off with Gloria’s Dream which is basically a re-tread of hit single ‘Gloria’ but nevertheless a good rollicking slice of r’n’b. Followed by a rather good mid-tempo bluesy track ‘The Crazy World Inside Me’ which leads on to the harmonica driven rocker ‘Midnight Train’. Things then take a peculiar turn with a neo classical piece ‘Aria Of The Fallen Angels’ before returning to familiar territory with a cover of the Dylan standard ‘Its All Over Now Baby Blue’. Then we are off once again into strange realms with the freakbeat/Bo Diddley influenced ‘People Let’s Freak Out’ before once again returning to solid ground with a  good version of the much covered John Lee Hooker classic ‘Boom Boom’. More bluesy organ drenched sounds follow on the lyrically strange ‘The Last Will And Testament’ before we are hit with a cover of Donovan’s ‘Hey Gyp’. If you have read this far you are probably, like me, thinking along the lines of this sounds totally schizophrenic as an album. Well, yes and no, after repeated listenings it does seem to strangely hang together in a curious way. In my opinion the mix of discordant tracks can be laid at the feet of Kim Fowley, whenever i hear that name my hackles rise. Fowley was an American Record Producer/singer/songwriter who was active in America and London (amongst other locations) from 1960 through to the 21st century. According to your point of view he was either a maverick genius or a meddling hustler in many a bands career. I met him once at a party in Bayswater given by Dave a sound engineer friend of mine. Fowley was responsible for this album. By the time it was issued in Sweden & The Netherlands only, in 1967, the band had already broken up, disillusioned and broke and indeed ignorant of its release at all! This new release put together by Grapefruit Records has the original 12 tracks plus a bonus 9 all newly remastered and sounding excellent and is without doubt the definitive edition and restores some integrity to the shabby treatment of the band and its place in music history. If earthy early r’n’b & blues is your thing there is much here to enjoy.

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

Til next time, stay safe and well everyone………

Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Complete Bell Recordings 1966-1969 – James & Bobby Purify 2CD

THE COMPLETE BELL RECORDINGS 1966-1969  James & Bobby Purify

James Lee Purify and his cousin Robert Lee Dickey (died 2012) formed as a duo in 1966, with the latter adopting Purify. Both hailed from Florida and were steeped in soul music. Signed to Bell Records they scored a million seller with their debut single ‘I’m Your Puppet’ written by prolific songwriter Dan Penn (who wrote many hit songs including ‘Cry Like A Baby’  for labelmates The Box Tops). Nominated for a Grammy and an enduring soul hit IYP was in fact completely disliked by the duo. Originally written as a country song it was too lightweight and ‘poppy’ for James & Bobby who were not shy of telling the press at the time. I can see their point of view. This compilation includes the two albums they recorded, singles and bonus/unissued tracks and IYP does sound out of place when compared to the rest of the tracks. Their follow up hit (in the US) ‘Wish You Didn’t have to Go’ is much more representative of their soul credentials and sounds like a Stax/Atlantic/VJ release as indeed does the rest of their output. In fact both IYP and the other tracks were recorded at Fame Studio’s Muscle Shoals, a legendary place to be sure. Their first album features some superb covers of, in particular, Eddie Floyds ‘Knock On Wood’ Otis Redding’s ‘Ive Been Loving You Too Long’ ( a great arrangement) Sam Cooke’s immortal ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ and Sam & Dave’s ‘Blame Me’. Sam & Dave were undoubtedly the pre-eminent soul duo at the time, so its interesting that they actually covered IYP! Their second album contained here ‘The Pure Sound Of The Purifys’ carried on the Sam & Dave link with ‘I Take What I Want’, ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ and ‘Soothe Me’, in retrospect it seems a bit much to cover 3 songs by what are basically your main rivals, however when you think back nearly all black soul acts were doing it, in particular Tamla and Motown being the most guilty. Anyway be that as it may there are some fine vocal performances ‘Hello There’ (another Dan Penn original), ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ and ‘Shake A Tail Feather’ with backing vocals by no less than Melba Moore, Doris Troy and Ellie Greenwich, which was recorded with a ‘live’ feel in the style of Geno Washington, who incidentally covered…yes you’ve guessed it..IYP! All in all the 38 tracks gathered here are a real trip back to those heady days in the 60’s when soul MEANT soul, not what purports to be ‘soul’ nowadays. Ok I’m biased and getting on but listening to this its 1967 and im young and full of hope and energy. SoulMusic Records have done a great remastering job coupled with a 16 page booklet and whatever James & Bobby originally thought their music stands the test of time. Enjoy.

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

Til next time……………Colin

Stallion – Live At The Lyceum September 1976

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Of the many obscure, trench-coated progressive rock groups that germinated in the garages, sheds and rehearsal studios of England in the early ’70s, Stallion deserve to be recognised as one of the great lost bands of the first progressive era. Hailed critically, and by those lucky enough to see them perform, Stallion appeared on the same stage as many of their more well-known contemporaries including Motörhead, Stackridge, Rare Bird, Stray, The Edgar Broughton Band andTraffic. Despite winning a Melody Maker magazine competition and playing on the main stage at Reading Festival in 1976, and having successfully merged progressive rock moves with punk attitude, major label success eluded Stallion and they broke up in the late ’70s a well-kept secret.This new CD contains their rare single and fragments of “the album that never was”, together with a history of the band and previously unseen photographs.

Sound Engineer… Dave Hinde.

Phil Thornton….Stallion play ‘The Hard Life’ recorded live at the Lyceum Ballroom, London. September 1976 supporting Motorhead.

Paul E Newcomb… Stray were the headliners that night… Motorhead second and  Dirty Tricks (?) third. Stallion had won the MM folfkRock competition that year I believe

Phil Gill… Correct as to line up, but Motörhead might have headlined.

Phil Thornton… Yes I think it was Motörhead headlining – the PA was theirs and they were charging other bands to use it !!

Pete Fisher… I was living in London then, but didn’t come along to the gig…guess I didn’t hear about it…funnily enough the band I joined that year got to the final of the MM Folk/Rock competition the following year in 1977 (after winning the semi-final at the Marquee), but didn’t win…

Dave Nattress… Just wonderful to hear this. Stallion were just so good and this proves it. In Damaris we had the privilege to play support a few times on the pier and we totally loved, respected, revered and admired this band. They were where we wanted to go. 43 years ago. Frightening. Brilliant that there are these recordings and my clear recollection of their tight musicianship and the spectacular whirling dervish performances of John Wilde come right back to me, and visuals aside John was a wonderful vocalist, great tone and delivery. Congrats to all, great memories and sad that not all the guys who took the Stallion road are no longer with us. Got the CD album a few years ago and play it a lot, great that Phil T and the guys were able to get it out

Phil Gill… Damaris were none too shabby as I recall. I remember a song about a “city punk” that always stuck in my head.

Dave Nattress… Thanks Phil, nice one. I have the lyric somewhere, just found it, yes I was big on rhyming and City Punk was followed by the line “Lived on Junk”, a not so obsure double meaning which was also something I liked to put in. We had some out-there tracks and themes and lyrics, tracks about weird stuff like “Star Tiger” which was the call-sign of an aircraft that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle, “Alien Tomorrows” a space journey influenced piece, eampling part of the planet suite, never can remember if it was Mars or Jupiter – Iain Cobby puts me right. Trawled up a load more lyrics of our songs, “The First Survivor” one man thinking he’s alone on the planet after the proverbial nuclear war, “Rubic’s Cube”, “Jack the Ripper”, another with references to characters from Lord of the Rings – blimey were we up ourselves or what!! Anyway good, good days!! Best wishes Phil.

John Wilde… thank you Dave. It was an awesome time. I very much appreciate your comments.

Phil Thornton… yes I remember enjoying Damaris sets – I’m sure we all went along to support them at a gig in Ore ? ( not sure about venue ) they were I think the only other band around Hastings at that time who were doing original stuff – great times indeed !

SMART SOUNDS By Colin Bell reviewing Black Flower by Nirvana (UK) CD

BLACK FLOWER     Nirvana (UK) CD

Having brought you reviews of Nirvana’s other albums, its with great personal pleasure I bring you this review of their third ‘lost’ album. Their debut album ‘The Story of Simopath’ is now considered the first ‘rock opera’ and the follow up (and most commercially successful album) ‘All of Us’ contained the sublime single hit ‘Rainbow Chaser’, another first with its use of ‘phasing’. The third album release should have been Black Flower. On completion Chris Blackwell boss of their label Island Records rejected it as not right for his label. In a, however, generous gesture gave them the master tapes and released the duo from their contract and bade them good luck to find a home for it.

Eventually a deal was done with Metromedia in the U.S. and Pye International in the U.K. Unfortunately Metromedia was caught up in a huge payola scandal and folded having just pressed up 500 promo copies (now worth £1000!) if you could find one. So Black Flower vanished into obscurity, it didn’t help that the title was also printed wrongly on the copies that were pressed, it became ‘Dedicated to Markos 111’ which was in fact exactly what it read a cover note dedication to a family member who had helped out the duo with financial assistance for re-mixing the masters. Now 50 years on Esoteric Records have got all the elements right and issued the album remastered with bonus tracks. one might say ‘Black Flower’ has finally bloomed. Patrick and Alex’s style of Baroque pop/psyche, odd time signatures and ethereal melodies and lyrics is most likely a ‘marmite’ one, you either get it and love it or not. Their songs are whimsical, sometimes dark but always interesting. Black Flower is a departure in some ways from the aforementioned 1st and 2nd albums, its more orchestral, more diverse, more cinematic. The opening track ‘The World Is Cold Without You’ could have easily been a Bee Gee’s number, with a twist, and I think a beautiful arrangement. The 2nd track ‘Excerpt from the Blind and the Beautiful’ is pure Nirvana at its best psyche/baroque style. Track 3 ‘I Talk To My Room’ is probably one of the best expressed ‘break up’ songs ever committed to vinyl/cd. ‘Christopher Lucifer’ moves more upbeat and poppy. Title track ‘ Black Flower’ is a tour-de-force with a snarling guitar part (Spooky Tooth members I believe). Female vocals were courtesy of Lesley Duncan, arrangements by Mike Vickers (Manfred Mann) and production by Mike Hurst (Cat Stevens, PP Arnold) and Tony Visconti ( T.Rex, Bowie etc). An awful lot of premier talent was involved. As I write this with the rain lashing against the windows Nirvana are able to transport you to sunny days and able to take you to a better place and live up to the definition of nirvana being ‘ A place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry and the external world’. Can’t better that. Enjoy……….

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

Til next time (with some excellent reggae)………Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Hazel O’Connor – Son’s & Lovers (Expanded Edition) cd

SON’S & LOVERS (EXPANDED EDITION)   Hazel O’ Connor

Had this on vinyl back in the day and reviewed it the first time round! So here we are 37, can it really be so, years later! and this newly remastered expanded release. The original 12 tracks are augmented by 5 bonus tracks and the album now clocks in at a shade under the hour. Sons & Lovers followed up the huge success Hazel had been enjoying with the Broken Glass soundtrack and glorious hits ‘Eighth Day’ and ‘Will You’.

However S&L was in fact written before BG and showcases Hazel’s talent for her observational ability to turn experiences into great songs. ‘Decadent Days’ which kicks off the album and became a top ten hit was the result of Hazel’s experience of attending a fledgling New Romantic Club in London and clocking the poseurs and ‘people looking very bizarre’ as she put it. As it says in the sleeve notes and indeed as she herself has been keen to point out over the years S&L is very much a bridge between Punk and New Wave.

I’d agree with that wholeheartedly, along with Toyah and Siouxsie that’s exactly where i’d put Hazel at the forefront. There is so much to recommend this album, ive always loved the biting track ‘Zoo’ the short and snappy ‘Gigolo’ where mention must be made of the sax playing of Wes Magoogan’ he is so rhythmic in his playing and again on the glorious ‘Do What You Do’, also in the lineup was Andy Qunta of course with his deft keyboard strokes. As aforementioned the original 12 tracks are all present and correct and have been bolstered by 5 bonus tracks ‘Ain’t It Funny’ ‘Time is Free (original version)’ 2 mixes of D-Days and a spirited rendition of Bowie’s ‘Suffragette City’ recorded live at the Dominion Theatre in December 1980 featuring a young Simon Le Bon. It might be 37 years and unmistakeably 80’s but S&L still stands up well unlike so much else from that era, but then Hazel is a unique performer. This SFE deluxe digi-pack sounds great and the accompanying booklet is informative with some great photo’s.

In conclusion as Andy Q and Wes are of course well known to SMART members, what are your recollections guys?

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

Til next time……………….Colin

Alan Esdaile… I see your in the video but were you not on the album Steve Kinch?

Tony Ham… Got this on vinyl.

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Something Here In My Heart (The Complete Recordings 1968-1970) The Paper Dolls cd

SOMETHING HERE IN MY HEART (THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1968-1970) The Paper Dolls

Firstly, Happy New Year to all friends and fellow Smarties I hope its a good one for you.

Okay for the first review of 2018 lets hit the time travel button and return to 1968. Thirty years before the advent of the Spice Girls and their (marketing ploy) nicknames Scary, Baby, Posh etc, there were three girls who also had nicknames namely Susie Mathis (Tiger), Pauline Bennett (Spyder) and Sue Marshall (Copper) and they could really sing! Unlike the aforementioned manufactured ‘group’ The Paper Dolls were a working band hailing from the Midlands doing the clubs, ballrooms etc etc. After being spotted they were invited to Pye Records in London to meet Tony Macauley hot producer and songwriter for The Foundations and Long John Baldry amongst many others. Driven to London by one Peter Stringfellow (yes that one) they were so poor he even had to stop to buy them new tights to wear! All then went well at the audition and with a name change from the Dolly Set to the Paper Dolls by May 1st they were at number 11 in the charts with the insanely catchy ‘Something Here In My Heart’. Many TV appearances followed, the girls were the epitome of what was then dubbed ‘ Dolly Birds’ by the contemporary press of the day. An album was hastily put together (contained in its entirety on this release) and it must have been very quick as the tracks were mainly cover versions of songs that were in the charts at the same time as SHIMH! thus there are good takes of ‘Captain Of Your Ship, ‘Darlin’, ‘Simon Says’ ‘Aint Nothing but A Houseparty’ and ‘Any Old Time You’re Lonely or Sad’ a hit for The Foundations, written as previously mentioned by Tony Macauley. After the success of their debut hit the second single release would be all important. It is at this point that history dealt the girls a cruel blow. The follow up was to have been ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ however due to a mix up the girls didn’t turn up for the recording session (not their error) and of course it was recorded instead by The Foundations and became a monster worldwide hit. Sadly therefore The Dolls were doomed to that ‘one hit wonder’ niche in the history of pop. They carried on busily working live up to 1970 before disbanding. This new 29 track compilation as the title suggests contains all their recordings and later solo singles by lead singer Susie ‘Tiger’ Mathis. The original album Paper Dolls House has in the meantime become a rare and expensive rarerity so its great to have it here at a price that all can enjoy. I must also mention that there is a really punchy take here on the much covered Angels ‘My Boyfriends Back’, indeed probably the best version ive heard (Chris Gentry take note!). Its a shame The Paper Dolls didn’t have the longtime chart career I feel they deserved, however they did leave a perfect pop footprint with SHIMH its impossible to not feel a smile coming on for a more innocent era, so on that note i’ll leave you with a glorious video from 50 years ago! Enjoy…….

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

Til next time……………………………….