SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing You Can Walk Across It On The Grass – The Boutique Sounds Of Swinging London, Various Artists 3CD Box Set

YOU CAN WALK ACROSS IT ON THE GRASS     Various Artistes  (3CD set)
Grapefruit Records have issued some really great compilations over the years, many reviewed in these pages. This latest package is right up there with their best ever. First that title. In April 1966 American heavyweight magazine Time ran a front page article with the headline ‘You Can Walk Across It On The Grass’ & went on to say how ‘Swinging London’ was the centre of the world when it came to contemporary pop culture. They were of course bang on there. From 1965 onwards, the music, fashion, art, films, actors, even furniture (remember egg shaped suspended chairs?) all were centred around one of the greatest cities in the world. It was a unique time when everything turned from the greyness of the 50’s into eye popping colour. Carnaby Street, the Kings Road, Mini Skirts, multi coloured Rolls Royce’s & Mini’s, creativity was everywhere. Tv channels started making and showing cool programmes like ‘The Avengers’ Gerry Anderson brought us classics like Thunderbirds, Dr Who appeared with the fearsome Daleks. Boutiques like Biba thrived & a plethora of clubs from the Scotch of St James to The Marquee hosted a multitude of bands every week, some would become stars, others would fall by the wayside. But everywhere there was innovation & optimism & a zest for life. This new compilation spread across 3 CD’s & over 4 hours of listening time seeks to capture the zeitgeist of that very special time. It does so admirably as it combines some great well known hit records alongside many less successful bands, who despite their lack of commercial success were very much part of ‘the scene’. To further the atmosphere of the time it also features zany offerings from icons such as Twiggy & Mandy Rice-Davies & some instrumentals synonymous with the period. This all adds up to a listening experience that transports you back to that heady time when us ‘baby boomers’ were really finding our feet & England & particularly London really was the centre of the universe. The mix of genres contained in this set is a real snapshot of the time, moving from pop, r’n’b, soul, Mod, freakbeat & more, there was room for anyone with something to say back then, when millions of 7inch pieces of vinyl flew out of the new trendy record shops. So to the music. Disc1 sets the mood perfectly with the instrumental ‘A Touch of Velvet – A Sting of Brass’ by The Mood Mosaic used extensively as intro music by DLT on Radio Caroline & later Jimmy Young (it was actually composed by Mark (Grocer Jack) Wirtz. Then its straight into the thumping sound of DD,DBM&T & ‘Hold Tight!’ followed by the excellent version Kiki Dee recorded of ‘Why Don’t I Run Away From You’. Already you can hear & visualise the diversity of ‘Cool Britannia’. The aforementioned Twiggy offers us ‘When I Think Of You’ followed by the wonderful & wacky ‘Kinky Boots’ from Avengers stars Patrick MacNee & Honor Blackman. Marquee favourites such as The Alan Bown Set, The Action & A Band of Angels (featuring local lad Mike d’Abo) make some cool contributions. What is probably one of my favourite up-tempo soul sounds of all time bursts out the speakers with the glorious ‘She Shot A Hole In My Soul’ by Geno Washington. Other artistes making up Disc1 include Dusty Springfield, The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, Zoot Money & many more. Excellent. And speaking of excellent Disc2 gets off to a great start with a scream from Reg Presley & The Troggs as he proclaims ‘I Cant Control Myself’ followed by a young David Bowie with The Lower Third & ‘Cant Help Thinking About Me’ The Kinks provide one of the anthems of the era with ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ The Fortunes remind us of the pirates with ‘Caroline’. Ron Grainer brings back TV memories with his theme to the series ‘Man In A Suitcase’ & The Who, arch Mod band at the time provide us with my favourite early single of theirs ‘I’m A Boy’. Elsewhere you can find tracks from Hastings Pier stalwarts Episode Six. Graham Bond, Tom Jones, Twinkle, John Mayall, The Merseys & a host of others. And finally to Disc3 which overall contains many of the lesser known acts who contributed to the scene such as The Untamed, The Syn, The Union & my old mate Miki Dallon. Big names are represented with tracks from The Small Faces, The Moody Blues, Georgie Fame, a pre ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ Carl Douglas, Jack Bruce & Johns Children. Reminding us of the pirates is the extremely annoying but fun ‘We Love The Pirates’ by the Roaring 60’s (an early contribution from hitmakers John Carter/Ken Lewis). This new compilation sets out to take us through an aural journey of a special time & succeeds wonderfully as many memories of sight & sound are stirred in my head, As ever Grapefruit Records boss David Wells provides a glossy 48 page booklet crammed with facts & ‘fab’ pictures. Definitely a 5 star release. Enjoy.
for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…..take care….Colin

Mick O’Dowd… What a collection. Real memory jerkers here!

 

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.

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

for more information go to  https://www.cherryred.co.uk
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 Ain’t Nothing But A House Party – 60s and Early 70s Club Soul Classics, 3CD Set Various Artists

 

AIN’T NOTHING BUT A HOUSEPARTY  60’s & 70’s CLUB SOUL CLASSICS     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

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

 

 

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

DEEP IN THE WOODS – PASTORAL PSYCHEDELIA & FOLK FUNK 1968-1975

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.

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