SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Idle Race: The Birthday Party, 2CD Expanded Digipak Edition

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY  (2CD Expanded Edition) by The Idle Race
From out of the midlands in the mid 60’s came what was to become ‘brumbeat’ Birmingham’s answer to its northerly neighbour ‘merseybeat’.

Birmingham was a very fertile scene with literally hundreds of ‘beat group’s. as we called them in those days, sounds really quaint now. The Idle Race evolved out of one such very popular band ‘Mike Sheridan & The Night Riders’, one member at that time being Roy Wood who left to join The Move. To fill his place guitarist Johnny Mann was recruited from Carl Wayne & the Vikings (Carl also to become a Move member) but after abruptly quitting the band were once again without a lead guitarist. An advertisement was placed in the Birmingham Evening Mail and the successful applicant was an 18 year prodigy in the shape of Jeff Lynne. A single was recorded ‘It’s Only A Dog’ a cover of a Kingsmen song which disappeared without trace. Jeff was then promoted to lead vocalist and songwriter and the band signed to Liberty Records. Roy Wood offered them a new song (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree, too good to turn down the band duly recorded it for their debut single in September 1967, but it was shelved when The Move recorded it themselves (as the ‘b’ side to Flowers In The Rain’). So step forward Jeff with what would be their first single ‘Imposters of Life’s Magazine’ a glorious slice of proto psyche complete with varispeed guitar, strange riff’s time signatures and indeed lyrics. In hindsight now it sounds like an outtake from Sgt.Pepper, in fact ive always felt Jeff was, and is, heavily influenced by Beatlesque melodies albeit with his very own genius take. Despite ‘Imposter’s’ being well received, much airplay and heavy support from one Kenny Everett it didn’t trouble the charts. The follow up single in March 1968 whilst again not a hit is the song for which the band is arguably best remembered ‘Skeleton & The Roundabout’ another Lynne composition was insanely catchy, quirky pop psyche and again showed off Jeff’s lyrical talents to the full. Along with Ray Davies and leaving aside Lennon/McCartney, I believe Jeff is a national treasure of ‘Englishness’ in his tales of pastoral and baroque themes.This new expanded album release celebrates his craft to the full, if you love the art pop of 67/68 of artist’s like Nirvana, World of Oz etc this is for you. There are so many strong tracks that you can hear the nascent ELO in there. ‘The Birthday’ and ‘I Like My Toys’ are two prime examples, the latter was played to death by the aforementioned Everett. The original album had 13 tracks, this release has the full 13 track mono album plus 9 bonus tracks on disc 1 whilst disc 2 contains the stereo version of the album (plus 1 bonus track). Amongst those bonus tracks are some gems like the previously mentioned ‘Lemon Tree’ and the ultra commercial ‘Knocking Nails Into My House’ (should have been a hit single). So 40 tracks to enjoy and a splendid 24 page booklet full of period pictures, sleeve covers and articles. Grapefruit Records have again excelled themselves with this release. Enjoy.

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

In closing, i’d just like to send all my best wishes to all my fellow SMART members, stay safe and well and if we all have to stay in at least we can listen to that album we’ve been meaning to get re-connected with!

Til next time……………………….Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Great album and a precursor to ELO. Had the original album on vinyl.

Colin Norton… Totally agree with Mick! This album is an absolute gem! I still have the original vinyl but must admit that its almost worn out. Stay safe guys!

Ray Harper… What a fantastic posting. Thank you.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing The Hits: Remixed Expanded Amii Stewart and The Original Cast And Friends Tony Burrows/Sue & Sunny/David Martin etc. CD’s.

AMII-STEWART_web originalcast

THE HITS (REMIXED EXPANDED) Amii Stewart
I think its fair to say that anyone who knows me also knows ‘disco’ is not my favourite genre…However there are exceptions and Amii is one. Her song ‘Friends’ (sadly not included here) is an all time favourite. Amii memorably shot to number one (in the U.S.) in April 1979 with her thunderous disco version of the old Eddie Floyd classic ‘Knock On Wood’ and followed up with her take on The Doors ‘Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven. These are no doubt the tracks she is most remembered for by most. However Amii is not just a disco diva, ‘Paradise Bird’ a mid tempo ballad is a lush, gorgeous example of her far ranging vocal talent and is quite stunning. The duet of the classic Motown songs My Girl/My Girl also shows off the softer soulful side to Amii. This new compilation of 12 tracks are all remixes made in 1985 by her long time producer Barry Leng of Hansa Records. The last two tracks being extended remixes of the two big hits aforementioned. As you might expect it does really shout Eighties, and I must admit some of the mixes sound a bit ‘clunky’ to these ears at this distance. However getting ANY material on CD by Amii isn’t cheap or easy, its nice to see an affordable collection to savour, so kudos to Cherry Pop for getting this out there. So out with the leg warmers and turn it up LOUD!

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

THE ORIGINAL CAST AND FRIENDS Tony Burrows/Sue & Sunny/David Martin etc.
Okay not the catchiest title! But this is a real treasure trove of material recorded throughout the 70’s and pulls together some very good pop singles that didn’t quite make it, but in many cases certainly deserved to. Tony Burrows is of course famous or infamous for appearing on TOTP as the lead singer of three groups in a single show! As the voice of Edison Lighthose, White Plains, Brotherhood of Man, Flowerpot Men, Pipkins, First Class etc, you couldn’t listen to radio in the 70’s without hearing that voice! From time to time he did release songs under his name ‘Have you Had A Little Happiness Lately’ ‘Better Fly Butterfly’ are two examples featured here, both instantly catchy pure put a smile on your face slices of pop. Its inexplicable how he missed out as a solo artist really. However he does remain THE voice of 70’s pop. Sue & Sunny were the ‘go to’ session singers of that era backing everyone from Elton John, Marc Bolan, David Bowie to Mott, Bowie, Donna Summer, the list is endless! You may also remember Sunny had a solo hit with ‘Doctors Orders’ in 1974. The third artist featured, David Martin, was the force behind the AMMO partnership and vocalist on Butterscotch hit ‘Don’t You Know’ and lead singer on Guys and Dolls ‘There’s A Whole Lot Of Loving’ as well as writing for Barry Manilow, David Essex and The Carpenters to name but a few. The Original Cast was a vehicle for all these artists. I can tell you that a lot of the tracks on this new 20 track cd are rare and hard to find and if you enjoy pure pop put together impeccably there is a lot to enjoy, its perfect summer time sunny day listening. And the final track ‘Golden Yearz’ is a little stroke of genius, recorded this year and featuring Tony B, David M and the USA’s ‘equilavent’ of Tony Burrows in the shape of Ron Dante the ‘voice’ behind The Archies ‘Sugar Sugar’, The Cufflinks ‘Tracy’ ‘When Julie Comes Around’ and a host of others. An inspired idea, a hell of a catchy song, and proof (If it was needed) that these guys have lost none of their vocal prowess 4 decades on, love it!

colin-head-111x150-111x150-1For more information go to http://www.angelair.co.uk

Til next time……… Colin

 

David Mulholland… It’s Tony Burrow on Guys and Dolls whole lotta loving vocals not the other guy

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Hot Chocolate: Remixes and Rarities, Deluxe 3CD Digipak Edition

REMIXES & RARITIES    Hot Chocolate  (3CD)
Happy new Year to all Smarties and welcome to the first Smart Sounds review of 2020. Ah Hot Chocolate just what we need on a cold January morning! The latest in Cherry Red’s R & R series is a real gem. Few bands can lay claim to the longevity and success, or, the calibre of Hot Chocolate. From their first release in 1969 (Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance) right thru the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s the band had massive success. Charting 29  UK Top 40 singles, a number 1 and 3 US Top 10’s  they were seldom off our TV screens or our radio’s. This comprehensive 3CD set,, as ever housed beautifully in a sturdy fold out digipack with extensive liner booklet, does what it say’s on the tin and brings together 36 tracks of rare,  hard to find remixes, ‘B’ sides and some tracks finding their way onto CD for the first time. The plethora of remixes feature some of HC’s most beloved songs including ‘Everyone 1’s A Winner’ ‘Mindless Boogie’ ‘Heaven Is In The Back Seat Of My Cadillac’ ‘No Doubt About it’ and of course ‘You Sexy Thing’. There are in fact 6 remixes of the latter, some might consider that overkill, but for those completists and collectors out there they will be warmly welcomed. Indeed YST is probably my own personal less favoured track, probably due to its overexposure over the years in films and (extensively) in TV advertising. There are 2 Megamix’s I would have loved to have available all those years ago when I was still doing live DJ shows. you could guarantee that people would get up on their feet to HC. The first of these and in my eyes the best features ‘Emma/So You Win Again/You Sexy Thing/Every 1’s A Winner/So You Win Again/No Doubt About It a sure floor filler.

The last track of the Megamix  ‘No Doubt About It’ is one of my favourite HC tracks and involves a strange and personal connection. In 1978 I lived in London off Finchley Road and coming home from a gig in the early hours I saw what I can only say was a UFO having woken up my flatmate who saw it too and confirmed I wasn’t drunk or dreaming! the sight stayed with me always. Then along in 1980 came ‘No Doubt About It’ co-written by Dave Most (brother of record whiz Mickie) based on the experience of seeing a UFO…which I later found out was seen over…yes you’ve guessed it..Finchley Road! Spooky! Anyway back to earth, this new collection has been remastered from (where possible) the original master tapes and sounds wonderful and has given my speakers a good work out. Hot Chocolate produced some classy and classic material over their peak years and this release adds to that admirably. With new members the band still tours to this day, Errol Brown sadly left us in May 2015 but im sure he’s looking on and busting some moves, no doubt about it. Enjoy.

For more information go tohttps://www.cherryred.co.uk

Til next time……………..Colin

Monica Bane… Loved Hot Chocolate. Have some of their music!

Mick O’Dowd… Great stuff! They were an excellent band with a terrific singer. Worked with them once and saw them on another occasion. Nice blokes. Sad loss of Errol.

Julie Findlay-Jones… Went to see them with your sister Alan, brilliant concert.

Peter O’Donnell… Talented man.

David Edwards… Great band with Errol’s honey laden vocals what’s not to like about them

John Parnell… Saw them in their very early days in September 1968 at the Narracott Grand hotel, Woolacombe, Devon. Excellent band. I particularly remember Errol’s very energetic performance in addition to his great singing.

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Roy Wood: Mustard, Remastered and Expanded CD Edition

MUSTARD  (Remastered & Expanded)    Roy Wood
Straightaway I have to say I have a deep soft spot for Roy, he was the first bona fide ‘pop star’ I met when I started backstage on Hastings Pier in 1967, indeed elsewhere on the SMART site is the autographs of Roy and the rest of The Move obtained at the time. I’ve always ranked him in the top ten British songwriters. From The Move to ELO (briefly), Wizzard and solo his work has always trod its own very quirky path verging from pastiche to genius but always so original. ‘Mustard’ was originally released in December 1975 and was Roy’s second solo album following on from the successful ‘Boulders’ that had spawned quirky melodic songs such as the single hit ‘Dear Elaine’. ‘Mustard’ was commercially unsuccessful but arguably his ‘magnum opus’ showcasing his immense talent and creativity at its peak. All eight songs (+ 7 bonus on this release) were all written, sung, engineered and produced by Roy who also played EVERY instrument and even provided the artwork for the cover! His influences, in his own words, ranged from the 1940’s swing/doo wop of the Andrews sisters thru The Beach Boys, the Ronettes/Phil Spector to Led Zeppelin! Now that sounds like a complete mess of a recipe for an album, and in other hands it would be but Roy pulls it off.
The opening title track is a clever concoction that sounds just like a 40’s radio jingle by the aforementioned Andrew’s sisters but the ‘sisters’ is in fact Roy’s sped up vocal over sound effects, following on is classic Wood pop with ‘Any Old Time Will Do’. It’s on the next track ‘The Rain Came Down On Everything’ that shows what Roy’s vision of ELO might have been given the chance with its opening vocal (by Annie Haslam of Renaissance) a sweeping ballad that turns operatic before dissolving at the end into a thunderstorm (sound familiar Jeff Lynne!) Next up is a slice of boogie-woo blues/swing in ‘You Sure Got It Now’. For me the highlight of the album comes with the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys heavily inspired ‘Why Does Such A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs’ (some say written for Lynsey De Paul, Roy’s girlfriend at the time) whatever its almost a pastiche of God Only Knows meets Sloop John B/Good Vibrations its just wackily brilliant. And speaking of wackily brilliant track 8 and originally the closing track is Roy’s homage to Led Zeppelin in the shape of the rocker ‘Get On Down Home’ complete with a 2 minute drum solo in the mould of John Bonham, again as aforementioned with all the instruments being played by the man himself, in fact drums were the first and only instrument that Roy had any formal lessons in, remarkable, who teaches themselves bagpipes! With this new Esoteric release the album doesn’t end there but adds an extra 7 tracks (some released as singles like ‘Oh What A Shame’) with a couple attributed to ‘Wizzard’.
As I said ‘Mustard’ did not sell well on release mainly due to the record company (Jet Records) run by the infamous Don Arden concentrating on ELO which was an injustice but happily here in 2019 after years of being unavailable we can catch a musical prodigy at his best. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…………………………… Colin

Derek Clemans… A friend of mine who I havn’t seen for many years and can’t remember his name I think played base for the Move then played Sax with Wizzard and I get to see him every Christmas on old Top of the Pops Christmas specials. He lived on the Tilekiln estate and when he got married he had his reception at the Tile Kiln community club and Roy Wood turned up to jam with him.

Neil Partrick… Great review Colin. Made me want to check it out

Colin Bell… Cheers Neil, I do my best! Do check it out you won’t be disappointed.

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 Billy Ocean: Remixes and Rarities 2CD

REMIXES & RARITIES  Billy Ocean
The latest in Cherry Pop’s excellent series ‘Remixes & Rarities’ (I’ve previously reviewed Flock of Seagulls and Amii Stewart) is this entry by Billy Ocean. If anyone was ripe for the remix treatment Billy is a dead cert. There has been unofficial remixes floating about but now this new 2CD set brings together 23 tracks, a number of which appearing for the first time here, all mastered superbly.Its been over 40 years since I remember getting the first promo single ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ back in 1976. I remember reviewing that and praising Billy for his voice and the extremely catchy chorus.  The following year he had a further hit with my own personal favourite ‘ Red Light (Spells Danger)’ and I was lucky enough to work with him on two occasions and can certainly attest to what a lovely. modest guy he is. In the years that have followed he’s had UK/USA No.1’s, and been awarded a Grammy, Ivor Novello and MOBO lifetime achievement award. Kicking off this set is the irresistable ‘When the Going Gets Tough (extended version) one of four versions (extended, instrumental, club, and 7th Heaven Club Mix).
If ever a song was going to get you on your feet this is it! This is followed by another biggie in Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run) interestedly it’s titled ‘African Queen’ here and  another version also appears titled ‘European Queen’ I didn’t know it had different titles in different territories, I live and learn! Yet again the suggestion was made by the mogul Clive Davis who seems to crop up in every other review I write! ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ gets two mixes a 1986 Dance Mix and a Dub Mix. Maybe lesser known (here in the UK) are fine versions of ‘American Hearts’, ‘Licence To Chill’ and ‘Loverboy’. Then its definitely all back on the dance floor for a Extended 8.59 min mix of ‘Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car’ another classic floorfiller. Great title, and lets not forget that Billy wrote/co wrote all his major hits, a fact I think often overlooked. This is a great collection if you’re having a summer party/barbeque on a summers evening, though invite the neighbours as this should be enjoyed LOUD to really feel those beats. Billy is currently finishing his eleventh studio album and touring throughout the UK, US and Australia alongside the equally great Beverley Knight and Jess Glynne (who seems to duet with everyone!) Along with the already mentioned excellent mastering the set contains a very informative 16 page colour booklet and is released this coming Friday (23rd). I’ll leave you with the original WTGGT until someone posts the remix (I do rather enjoy the ‘backing vocalists…). Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…………………………….Colin

 

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Singles Collection (3CD) by Bay City Rollers

THE SINGLES COLLECTION  (3CD)   Bay City Rollers
In my experience seldom have a band been so loved or so reviled. This new 3CD collection brings together 47 tracks to make it the definitive set. A few facts first, the band had its origins as early as 1964 when Alan Longmuir (died 2018) and his younger brother Derek together with a friend formed a trio in their native Edinburgh, this eventually led to a group called the Saxons. Invited to join as lead singer was Gordon ‘Nobby’ Clark, deciding to change their name to the ‘Rollers’ they decided that wasn’t quite beefy enough so they threw a dart in a map of the U.S.A. which landed near Bay City Michigan, thus was born the Bay City Rollers. More line-up changes followed including David Paton and Billy Lyall (who were later to form Pilot). The band was managed by Edinburgh businessman Tam Paton, who the least said about the better ( a whole other story). Signed to Bell Records their debut single ‘Keep On Dancing’ was a No. 9 hit in 1971, a instantly catchy cover of the American group The Gentry’s 1965 hit. It was at this point I got to know the band, having some connections with the record label and Jonathan King who produced ‘Keep On Dancing’. I mention this because I can vouch for the fact they COULD play their instruments and their live gigs were fine. After KOD it was to be another 2 years of unsuccessful releases before their next hit ‘Remember (Sha La la)’ made it to number 6 in late 73. Unfortunately it was at this point having recorded ‘Remember’ disillusioned with the band Nobby quit just before the record shot up the charts. Thus by early 1974 new lead singer Les McKeown completed what would become the ‘classic’ line up of McKeown, Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir, Eric Faulkner and Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood. The rest as they say is history with a re-recorded lead vocal ‘Remember’ was the start of a string of UK hits, by 1975 ‘Rollermania’ swept the country and eventually the world. ‘Shang A Lang’ ‘Summerlove Sensation’ ‘All of Me Loves All of You’  and a cover of the Four Seasons ‘Bye Bye Baby were just some of their huge hits, the latter staying at No.1 for 6 weeks. By 1976 they had also conquered the US guided by the Arista label guru Clive Davis. Tartan trousers, scarves, merchandise the BCR were truly the first mega ‘boyband’. Now as I said at the start they were loved by (in the main) their core audience of young teen girls and hated by ‘serious’ musicians. The venerable Nick Lowe even wrote a micky taking song to get him out of his contract with his label UA, which backfired as when it was released under the name Tartan Horde became a hit!…and he was forced to write a follow up. Personally I think there is a lot of musical snobbery and always has been, did the BCR deserve to be pilloried any more than their labelmates, the Glitter Band, Showaddywaddy, Dawn, etc etc I don’t think so, or was there a hint of jealousy? Lets not forget that the BCR sold over 120 million records. This 3CD set spans their heyday and covers releases from all over the world. A word on the unlucky ‘Nobby’ who missed out on all the success, on CD1 the first 10 tracks from ‘Keep On Dancing’ to ‘Remember’ contain Nobby’s vocals, so you can compare. Personally I think he was the better vocalist, his voice not unlike the great Brian Connely’s at times. However in real terms the whole band missed out on success financially, with legal issues over royalties which as far as I know continue to this day. So overall to sum up what the BCR did in their genre and marketplace they did well. They provided happiness in a series of throwaway pop releases in a decade that saw all sorts of excess in the world of pop. This 7T’s record release comes in a clamshell box with 3 card disc sleeves and a 26 page booklet. Now to quote a line….’If you hate me after what I say’…………….
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time………….,

Colin

Pete Fisher… I won’t be rushing out and buying this, but the band certainly marked the era ’74-’76…my younger sister (who was 15/16/17 at the time) was a huge fan, and had all their records, all the tartan gear, and went to loads of their concerts…must admit they had some catchy tunes, but it was all too teeny candy floss for me…

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

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Strawbs – Deadlines (2CD/1DVD) Remastered/Expanded Edition

DEADLINES : Strawbs (2CD/1DVD)  Remastered/Expanded Edition
Firstly the issuer of this release Esoteric Records have done a masterful job (as usual) with the presentation of this set. Housed in a sturdy glossy clamshell box, inside containing 3 discs with individual artwork, a replica Tour flyer/poster and a booklet. Disc 1 contains the original album plus 11 bonus tracks. Disc 2 contains 11 tracks live from their concert at the Golders Green Hippodrome recorded on 18th February 1978 for BBC’s ‘Sight and Sound’ programme. Disc 3 is a DVD (all region) of the aforementioned ‘Sight and Sound’ beautifully remastered in…well..’Sight and Sound’! available here for the first time. The Strawbs originally formed in 1964 by Dave Cousins as a bluegrass band had by the 70’s moved through Folk, Folk/Rock, Prog Rock and had pop/rock hits memorably with ‘Lay Down’ in 1973 (a personal all time favourite’). By the time they recorded ‘Deadlines’ their last album of the 70’s they were all but done. Their previous album ‘Burning For You’ ended with ‘Goodbye Is Not An Easy Word To Say’ intended by Dave as his farewell song to the band. Lets remember that 1977 was the height of Punk and all that came with it, bands like the Strawbs, Yes, Asia, ELP etc etc were considered irrelevant dinosaurs and derided by the Punk movement. However management somehow convinced Dave to carry on. So it was that he took a flight to New York to meet with Clive Davis music mogul and founder of Arista Records. An unlikely label one would think known mainly (at that time) for its pop sensibilities with acts like The Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy, Gary Glitter, Dawn etc. However a deal was done with an enthusiastic Davis and ‘Deadlines’ was the result. As it turned out it would be the only album for Arista. Largely ignored by the Press on release and to a degree the record buying public it became the ‘lost’ Strawbs album. Did it deserve it? an emphatic No! The line up for ‘Deadlines’ consisted of Dave Cousins (acoustic guitar/vocals), Dave Lambert (electric guitar/vocals), Chas Cronk (Bass), Tony Fernandez (Drums) and new arrival Andy Richards (keyboards/moog etc). Recorded in Dublin and Air Studios London all nine tracks written by Cousins, Lambert and Cronk the finished album did in fact have a lick of Arista about it as the band moved at times to almost pop powerballadry. Kicking off with a stormer ‘No Return’ (an ironic title given the closing title of the previous album!) with the lead vocal taken by Dave Lambert as opposed to Cousins, great driving riffs and some electrifying keyboard wizardry by Andy shown to stunning effect on the live DVD (there’s another Andy (Q!) known to us all that would surely rate this) Track 2 ‘Joey and Me’ another uptempo catchy cut also features some impressive keyboards. Track 3 ‘Sealed With a Traitors Kiss’ is a heartfelt ballad and is a beautiful gem. Space precludes a run down on every single track but two other tracks standout ‘The Last Report’ becomes an earworm after one listening and ‘Deadly Nightshade’ is a pure madrigal winner. Disc 2 as mentioned is the live ‘Sight and Sound’ concert audio. Disc 3 is the DVD of said concert with the same tracks in the same running order and for me is the jewel in this package. Mixing old favourites with tracks from ‘Deadlines’ its a great and nostalgic watch and joy of joys blasts off with a spirited ‘Lay Down’ what more could you ask for! If you’re a Strawbs fan I urge you to watch this you won’t be disappointed. An excellent package, more please Esoteric! Enjoy.
Til next time…………Colin

 

Andy Qunta… Great review, Colin!

Neil Partrick… really interesting article, Colin.

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Chicory Tip: The Complete Chicory Tip, 2CD Jewel Case Edition

 

THE COMPLETE CHICORY TIP   Chicory Tip 2CD
February 1972 and Chicory Tip are number 1 with ‘Son Of My Father’ and its my birthday, ah happy memories! The origins of CT began 7 years earlier when the guys hailing from Maidstone/Gillingham came together to form The Sonics, after two years they broke up and reformed in 1967 and changed their name to CT. They were playing a gig at an Army Barracks near Maidstone (a venue myself, Andre and Alan were familiar with) alongside The Mannish Boys (with David Bowie), coming off stage one member noticed a bottle of coffee (Camp?) saw the ingredient Chicory and thus the band acquired its new name. Their big break came in late 1971 when having being introduced to Roger Easterby (manager of Vanity Fare) they recorded, on Christmas Eve, ‘Son Of My Father’. The song was written by Pete Bellote and one Giorgio Moroder who was to go on to have worldwide success with most notably Donna Summer amongst many others. SOMF was the first number 1 to feature a very early moog synththesizer, indeed one of the first records to feature a moog at all. SOMF was an international million seller and was number 1 in many countries and to this day will always be the record CT are remembered for.
This new 2 CD package contains all of the bands output for the first time and comes with a great illustrated booklet reminding us (certainly in my case) of the awful hair and clothes! Its tracks are typical of its era, lightweight, mid and uptempo pop, all perfectly pleasant if not particularly memorable. However they did return to the charts with follow up single ‘Whats Your Name’ (No.13) and ‘Good Grief Christina’ (No.17). They even managed to get a single banned by the BBC (which was always helpful!) it was called ‘Cigarettes, Women and Wine’ the Beeb saying it could ‘corrupt the nations teenagers’! Quaint! and too late for this reviewer! CT soldered on for another 5 years with CBS but never troubled the charts again. When Roger Easterby set up his own label (Route Records) CT released their last single ‘Survivor’ complete with the signature moog, but by then in 1974/75 Glam had had its day and CT were done. In 2000 there was a reunion and the band played on for another 10 years before again disbanding. This new collection by 7T’s records is one for collectors of Glam and 70’s completists harking back to a simpler era. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……………Colin

 

Paul Crimin… Saw them at the Standard…

Wendy Weaver… Chicory Tip played at a Caravan Club New Year’s Rally about 12-sh years a go. They played for the whole evening. I think there were only 2 of them but they were very good.

Barry Upton… Son of my father !!!

Nigel Ford… They played at Battle dance when I was there,just before they became famous and went down well, but then became too dear to re-book when famous.