SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Bubblerock Is Here To Stay! The British Pop Explosion 1970-73, Various Artists 3CD

BUBBLEROCK IS HERE TO STAY – The British Pop Explosion 1970-73   Various Artists 3CD Set

Well i guess the clue is in the title. Grapefruit Records latest 3CD set delves into the mostly pop candyfloss, i.e. consume and forget, pop records that were ubiquitous in the early 70’s. Pop & Rock had by now gone their separate ways, with serious bands getting…well serious, whilst a legion of pop bands old & new released a slew of what the Americans dubbed ‘Bubblegum’ on their side of the pond. They had The Archies, Cuff Links, Crazy Elephant etc. We hit back with our own home made ‘Bubblerock’. So what earned an entry into this genre? Simple 3 minute melodic lightweight hooky radio friendly songs in the main. Certain labels like RCA, Bell, & Mickie Most’s RAK label specialised in having teams of writers hammering out numbers chiefly aimed at the pocket money generation of 11-14 year olds. Early champions were the nascent Sweet & Mud. This new compilation however digs deeper into the rubble and unearth’s some long forgotten nuggets alongside the more familiar. Disc1 cracks off with the oft compiled ‘Groovin With Mr Bloe’ and serves up more well known names with Pickettywitch, Blue Mink, Marmalade, Lieutenant Pigeon & Hotlegs (10cc) but it’s the unfamiliar and the forgotten that provides the fun, like ‘I Fought The Law’ by Posse, ‘Alexandra Park’ by Fumble & the notorious at the time St. Cecelia ‘Leap Up & Down (Wave Your Knickers in The Air) a record actually loved and championed by the late great DJ Jimmy Young who played it regularly on his Radio 2 show. But when it comes to ‘novelty’ pop the undisputed champion is without doubt Jonathan King and his UK Records label. Whatever we may now think of King on a personal level, he was/is a genius for coming up with ‘studio bands’ with (usually) daft names and scoring massive hits. Amongst the more well known here are The Piglets ‘Johnny Reggae’ kicking off Disc2. A record that surprisingly didn’t get banned (if you study the lyrics), i’ll return to King in a moment, Disc2 also sports big names Sweet, Tremeloes, Mungo Jerry & White Plains. and again a host of also rans in Jungle Jim, Peter Cowap, Tina Harvey with a take on The Stones ‘Have You Seen Your Mother Baby’ and Kim’s younger brother Ricky Wilde. But let’s return to White Plains with their entry of ‘When You Are A King’ a record that is vastly superior to some of those i’ve mentioned. It’s a superbly crafted and indeed complex song, what’s it doing here? Then i had a thought David Wells who is the label boss and compiles these releases could be having an ‘in’ joke with this one. As previously mentioned you will find tracks by Jonathan King scattered throughout under different names and guises. Is David asking us to guess which tracks they are by asking ‘When You Are A King’?! Or is that just a random idea of my own? Well either way i’m not going to name all the tracks in question, that way everybody can play along! Disc3 starts with a rather wonderful version of Elvis’s ‘Suspicion’ by the loony ex Bonzo member Vivian Stanshall and again features name acts in David Essex, Bay City Rollers, Middle Of The Road, Peter Skellern & Kenny. There are some strong runners up in Butterscotch with ‘Don’t You Know’, B J Arnau ‘I Want To Go Back There Again’ (she appeared in the Bond film Live & Let Die as a nightclub singer) & Fickle Pickle ‘California Calling’. I was disappointed with the last choice as Fickle Pickle did an amazing version of McCartneys ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ which would have been good to have on here. As ever the packaging and accompanying booklet are first class and in the case of the booklet very informative and will give you the answers to all those ‘fictitious” bands i mentioned earlier. For those that collect the, lost, obscure, novelty and downright wacky side of 70’s pop this will go down a treat, for others it may be a case of too much candyfloss. Enjoy.

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

Til next time………………stay safe….Colin

 

Louis Wiggett… I have the Kincade album, not bad in places.

Mick O’Dowd… Agghh… Leap Up & Down…. What a classic?

Paul Gray… I’ve ordered this and really looking forward to hearing stuff I haven’t heard for 50 years! Grapefruit Records do some fantastic compilations very lovingly put together.

Colin Bell… Excellent Paul, enjoy!

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing A Place In The Sun The Complete Jason Crest – 2CD

A PLACE IN THE SUN -The Complete  Jason Crest       JASON CREST
I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. Back in the late 60’s i supported Jason Crest on several occasions all around Sussex & Kent. I remember a particularly good gig at Staplehurst Village Hall, which in hindsight was a very low level venue for such an accomplished band. Unfortunately this is part of the overall lack of support the band received. Formed In Tonbridge by drummer Terry Clark he recruited another Terry (Dobson) from a venue i also played at Tonbridge Teen & Twenty Club. Terry No 2 played guitar, they were joined by Ron Fowler on bass & Dave Tiffin on rhythm guitar. The band christened themselves The Spurlyweeves and set about gigging and making a name for themselves. They entered a band competition where they spotted another young gifted guitarist called Derek Smallcombe who shortly replaced Dave Tiffin. Terry Dobson swapped guitar for Hammond Organ duties and then in one more poaching act in came on drums Roger Siggery whilst leader Terry Clark switched to concentrating on lead vocals. By 1966 the five piece knew they needed to make changes to distinguish them from all the other ‘beat bands’ mainly playing covers. So embracing the new wave of budding psychedelia the band changed their name to The Good Thing Brigade (not a memorable name!) However local papers ran articles on this local ‘flower power’ pop band and got them some attention. By 1967 EMI offered them a deal but the band chose to go with rival Philips Records (a fateful decision). Now writing their own material and firmly embracing psychedelic rock they released their first single the glorious ‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’ a full on psyche mini epic with a distinctive Hammond played through a wah-wah. This track kicks off this newly released 2CD set. Newly launched Radio 1 loved it and got behind it, but to be fair it wasn’t a ‘commercially sounding’ record. And this was really the start of the bands problems. Philips were used to promoting 3 minute ‘pop’ songs The Walker Brothers, Dusty etc. they kept looking to the band for ‘pop’ commercial songs whilst the band were cutting new ground with some of the best psychedelic records released in the 60’s. ‘Teagarden Lane’ a dreamy swirly acid dripped trip,  ‘My House Is Burning’ the epic ‘Black Mass’ a tour-de-force all complete with backward loops & phases. ‘The Charge Of The Light Brigade’ a radio friendly opus sounding rather ‘Move’ Like. Indeed with several other bands of the time the guys covered The Moves ‘Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree’ and actually produced an almost better version than the original and i say that as a great Move fan. This was fine with Philips whose lack of imagination ran to, well lets release a cover of a successful song, that always works…..but it didn’t. although it did lead to the band straying from their original material and covering ‘Paint It Black’, Spirit’s ‘Fresh Garbage’ and even ‘California Dreaming’ which to be fair did show off the bands great harmonies. But the strangest moment came for me when they covered ‘Hold On’ the ‘b’ side of ‘Reflections Of Charles Brown’ by Ruperts People who i was closely linked to and made for an interesting backstage chat at one gig! Its Disc2 of this collection is where you will find the majority of these covers, along with those already mentioned you will also find Paul Simon, Beatles & Spooky Tooth being given a work over. It’s interesting and frustrating comparing the two CD’s inasmuch as i want to travel back in time and grab the A & R guy at Philips and tell him to nurture this fresh, innovative, excellent psyche band and support and encourage the original material and basically leave the ‘covers’ as maybe live gig material. Well obviously that can’t happen and anyway eventually Philips ever dwindling interest in the band saw them call it a day. By 1970 they had changed their name to High Broom (a suburb of Tunbridge Wells) and founder member Terry Clark had departed frustrated. High Broom had a turntable hit with ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ but within a year they also imploded. In 1971 Clark, Siggery & Smallcombe settled their differences and formed a new band which would eventually become prog rock outfit Holy Mackerel. As i said at the start of this review i worked with Jason Crest several times and they have a special place in my heart as a lover of psyche rock they represented one of the best UK acts in that field and comparable to anything in similar vein emanating from the West Coast. For anyone who has a similar interest in this genre i warmly recommend this package to you to savour. Of interest to local readers is the booklet accompanying this release where you can find references to our beloved Hastings Pier, The Cobweb and a montage of gig posters featuring local venues like Battle Memorial Hall. I thank as ever David Wells & Grapefruit Records for this excellent complete collection and for bringing back some very warm memories for yours truly. enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk

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

Graham Matthews… Fantastic band, they played Staplecross Village Hall many times and at 12 years old I got to know them fairly well. In front of the stage there was a triangular section down from the apex of the roof which Nobby Clarke (the singer and main writer of their own songs) told me acted as a sound baffle and what you heard on stage while playing was not what the paying public heard. He went to the far end of the hall when setting up and got the sound balance right and I have seen so many bands play that venue including a lot that went on to great success, Nobby was the only one I saw do this and they always sounded great. IN THE 80’s several of us would book bands to raise money for the village as we still lived there and one guy booked a band called Cats Eyes, I arrived as they were setting up and walked in to see a guy with his back to me just inside the door singing and getting the band balanced. I said You have to be Nobby ! and sure enough it was 20 yrs later, remembering the hall from the 60’s.

Colin Bell… That’s brought back a few memories Graham, it’s highly likely we would have met, as i said in my review i supported them with a disco several times & did Staplecross Village Hall as a disco gig several times, cheers! Colin

 

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Shape Of The Rain: Riley Riley Wood & Waggett, 3CD Digipak

RILEY RILEY WOOD & WAGGETT    Shape Of The Rain
Who? I hear you cry, well  in this instance I would echo that myself. I like to think after 50 + years in this business that even if I don’t know their work I will at least have heard of them, but I must confess not this time. So let’s investigate, come with me back to the end of the 60’s/start of the 70’s. Many bands had dropped their previous incarnation’s and gone ‘psych’ ‘prog’ ‘freakbeat’ ‘experimental’ etc etc. To cater for these ‘underground’ bands, the major Record Labels all created offshoot labels, EMI had Harvest, Pye Had Dawn, Philips had Vertigo, Decca had Deram and bringing up the rear was RCA with Neon. Now I have this particular quirk that remembers Record Labels (I used to file my mobile disco records by label) so I DO remember Neon but for another long forgotten band in Dando Shaft. In operation for just over a year from 1971 -2 the label only had 11 releases of which SOTR was number 7. Hailing from an area of the country bounded by Sheffield and Chesterfield the band came together originally as a Everly Bros style duo of cousins Keith Riley (lead vocals/guitar),and Brian Wood (guitar vocals before being joined by Keith’s brother Len Riley (bass) and Iain ‘Tag’ Waggett (drums).  The band’s name changed constantly, The Gear (inspired by their covers of Liverpudlian bands and Beatlesque sound) The Reaction was another and it was at this point they recorded a brace of demo’s and a local record shop owner David McPhie took an interest (he also represented Sheffield’s own Joe Cocker) and duly became their manager. With a name change to the more contemporary Shape Of The Rain all was set. This 3CD package covers their 1971 album RRW&W, a host of demo’s, outtakes, alternative versions, the demo’s for the aborted second album, a 50 minute live show from May 1970 and more. Disc 1 contains the original album kicking off with ‘Woman’ which, as noted in the sleevenotes, is a riff heavy pop/rock number sounding in structure very similar to Atomic Rooster’s ‘Devil’s Answer’ (co-incidentally issued on the same day!), this was issued as a single but didn’t trouble the charts at all, But this didn’t bother Neon, singles ‘weren’t cool man’ this was the dawn of the album…much cooler…er..man. After all the man in charge at Neon was Olav Wyper who in his previous life had been at CBS where he had dreamed up the much lauded sampler ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On’. Why am I banging on about labels? because that’s where the problem with the success or rather lack of it for Shape Of The Rain lies. They were a good sounding band, they wrote their own material, and where they didn’t ,had excellent taste performing material by The Byrd’s and Love. Now as any reader of my reviews, column’s etc will know Love is a band really close to my heart. Shape Of The Rain were clearly heavily influenced by the prevailing West Coast Sound, track 7 ‘Dusty Road’ is a prime example as is the following track  ‘Willowing Tree’s. And this is my point about success, had SOTR been on RCA’s main label there would have been more emphasis on promotion and put frankly money spent. To be fair even the band admit they were ‘musically confused’ but being hidden away, on a albeit ‘cool’ underground label served them badly. Their music is hook laden, delicate and contains some stunning arrangement’s, the Press of the time were impressed comparing them favourably to the like’s of Traffic and Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman took them to his heart as a big fan. So you had a commercially adept band hidden away on an obscure label, it was a no win situation as the fans of the ‘underground labels’ were looking for something more esoteric than SOTR and the main label fans of RCA were being treated to Bowie, Sweet etc i.e. the commercially successful acts of which SOTR could have been one. They have also been compared to Badfinger which I think is a fair comment, good hooky melodic songs and credibility to boot. The songs written for the second unreleased album show a growing confidence ‘The Very First Clown’ and ‘Listen To Your Heart’ being two examples.

The 3rd disc in the set is the previously mentioned ‘live recording’ taped at Manchester University (supporting Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) and given the recording restraints of the time is remarkably good, it captures the band in fine form (love the ‘Hendrix’ licks) mostly made up of new material at the time it did include a great version of ‘Willowing Tree’s from the Riley, Riley, Wood & Waggett album. And what about that album title? hardly jumps off the sleeve does it? I have a horrible suspicion somebody said something along the lines of ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ that’s cool man lets do that with this album. enough said! Eventually the band transferred to the main label and carried on til the mid 70’s before going their separate ways. Its a fact that there is more 60’s & 70’s music available to listen too today than there was then, incredible but true, so many albums never saw the light of day for so many reasons and some rightly so but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Shape Of The Rain and plugging a gap in my musical knowledge. Grapefruit Records have done their usual sterling job on the presentation of the set and the 24 page booklet contains many evocative photo’s and pictures of vintage poster’s and sound quality is excellent. Enjoy.

Til next time….please all stay safe and well……Colin

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

Tag Waggett… thanks for your kind words and thanks for an excellent review. Tag Waggett ( drummer) SOTR

Colin Bell… Hi Tag, good to hear from you, i hope i did your album justice, stay safe & well

Bill Griffiths… the first eight live tracks were recorded at Alfreton Hall on 2nd May 1970 on a Tandberg 1541 mono recorder and a Shure microphone . I was fortunately able to find a position at the back of the hall in an elevated position above the audience. the hall itself is not large being the remains of a former stately home of the Morewoods family, now a wedding venue. A couple of tracks were not included on the cd, possibly to leave room for the Manchester set.

Tony Davis… Really interesting piece Colin. As you say many lost bands of the late 60s and early 70s are now coming to light and bringing hidden gems to life.

Colin Bell… Thanks Tony, the review i posted yesterday of the 3CD set of bands covering The Beatles has some great stuff on it, which may well interest you, Cheers.

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 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