SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Try A Little Sunshine -The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1969 Various Artists 3cd set

TRY A LITTLE SUNSHINE-The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1969    Various Artists
This is the latest instalment in the excellent Grapefruit Records series of late 60’s compilations, see other Smart Sounds earlier reviews for the others. As ever the presentation is superb 3 CD’s in cardboard sleeves housed in a strong clamshell box with a 44 page booklet. All the booklets in this series have been informative but I have to say this made me aware of musicians I knew of, but not all the permutations of bands they had moved through, a really interesting read. So to the music, all 72 tracks of it! I think calling this set ‘psychedelic’ is a tad of a misnomer, although psyche sounds do abound, experimental may be a better description but no matter.
Kicking off with the song that gives the collection its title by The Factory (not to be confused with our very own local Factory) ‘Try A Little Sunshine’ is certainly a definite ‘psyche’ number with its snarling guitar which sounds like it could have been recorded by the Electric Prunes in 1967 at the height of psychedelia, a great start. Followed by obscure band SHY LIMBS with a Hammond drenched mid tempo number owing a lot to Procol Harum but very good in its own right. Indeed Procol Harum crop up at track 16 with the epic ‘Salty Dog’ which as I aforementioned is not considered psyche but was certainly  experimental and led the way along with other bands into the transition that became rock music as opposed to pop music. Throughout this collection there is a smattering of big ‘names’ albeit with lesser known tracks ‘The Move’, ‘Spencer Davis Group’ ‘Status Quo’ and ‘Barclay James Harvest’ to name a few. However its the obscure and long forgotten that make this a treasure trove of delights to listen to Wild Silk ‘Vision in a Plaster Sky’ and Consortium’s ‘The Day the Train Never Came’ are two brilliant examples on Disc 1, Consortium did manage to have a minor hit (top thirty) with a personal favourite ‘All the Love in the World’ (not contained here). Disc 2 is also full of delights from the excellent Fleur De Lys ‘Liar’ (the musicians that also played on Ruperts People’s Reflections of Charles Brown) to Dave Davies ‘Creeping Jean’, Ralph McTells ‘Summer Came Along’, the ever excellent Grapefruit with ‘Deep Water’ and personal favourites Nirvana ‘It Happened Two Sundays Ago’ ( a duo I have written extensively about in previous reviews), are just some of the highlights. Disc 3 opens with some personal vivid memories for this reviewer as I supported this band 3 or 4 times, the last being at Staplecross if memory serves, its the wonderful Jason Crest (from Tonbridge) with the occult laden ‘Black Mass’ ( a song that their record company Philips thought ‘distasteful’! immediately making it interesting to us (then) young guns! Certainly brought the era back in all its glory. Following this and by coincidence another band i’d worked with in the shape of Orange Bicycle and  ‘Last Cloud Home’, a band that made some of the best harmony pop songs ever with a distinctive feel. And speaking of harmony pop also on this disc is Tony Rivers in the shape of Harmony Grass ‘What A Groovy Day’ another class act. The Spectrum. The Deviants, The Onyx all deliver some great tracks. And then there’s Status Quo with their ‘pop psyche’ take on the old Everly Brothers ‘The Price of Love’ the single that bridged the gap between their hippy period and their next incarnation with ‘Down The Dustpipe’. So overall a broad ranging compliation, beautifully remastered and full of hidden gems to savour and enjoy. Well done again Grapefruit Records! Enjoy.
For more information go to… https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……….. Colin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRv-jAMh5Wg

Dave Nattress… Nice article. Was getting well into Psychedelica by then, but never seen these albums. “All the love in the World” by Consortium, a personal old pop favourite of mine too. Used to have the single but it’s long lost. I saw them play the De La Warr in Bexhill once at a “Beat Rave” – would have been 1969. Th track can be found on the www – you tube etc.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Cilla Black Original Album Series CD’s

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH CILLA/IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD (2CD) & CILLA MIXED UP/BEGINNINGS REVISITED (2CD)   Cilla Black
In a few days time (August 1st) it will be the third anniversary of the premature passing of ‘our Cilla’. These two new 2CD packages kick off a programme of releases lovingly curated and produced by Cilla’s son (and manager) Robert Willis. All remastered (and sounding brilliant) there is a wealth of new to CD, Remixes, Alternate Takes material that will keep any Cilla fan more than happy. Personally the first CD ‘Surround Yourself With Cilla’ still remains my favourite. Originally issued in 1969 it of course scored a huge hit with the lead track SYWS, an irresistible catchy pop single with the ‘morse code’ intro, one of Martin/Coulters best compositions. As was the way at the time ‘covers’ made up most of the bulk of the album ‘Aquarius’ from Cilla’s favourite musical ‘Hair’, ‘Words’ (Bee Gees), ‘You’ll Never Get To Heaven’ (Dionne Warwick) and ‘Without Him’ (Nilsson) to name a few. It also contains a much loved and performed fan favourite in ‘Liverpool Lullaby’. Added to the original 12 tracks there is a bonus 10. Skipping to the the 2nd CD ‘It Makes Me Feel Good’ released in 1976 and recorded in LA, the first and only time for Cilla. The publicity for it dubbed it Cilla’s soft rock phase, im not sure i’d categorise it that way, but the LA session musicians certainly give it a different feel. a little country/rock vibe. Kicking off with a spirited rendition of Holland/Dozier/Hollands ‘Something About You (Baby I Like) and followed by the US only single ‘ I’ll Take A Tango’, a Billboard hit. Other highlights are Albert Hammonds ‘Lay The Music Down’, Norman Petty’s ‘Heartbeat’ and Phil Spectors old Teddy Bears hit ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ Again other than the 12 original tracks there are a further 7 bonus tracks to enjoy. Its certainly a different take/style from Cilla and bears repeated listenings.

The second release ‘Cilla Mixed Up’ was originally a 2009 digital only release to celebrate Cilla’s 45th anniversary. ‘Mixed Up’ takes Cilla classics and does what it says on the tin and gives up dance/club remixes from top club DJ’s and doesn’t use any new vocal overdubs or recordings. Cilla was delighted to find herself played on the dancefloor ‘Im in the clubs! ‘Step Inside Love’ and ‘Something Tells Me’ come off remarkably well and certainly give these old tracks a completely new lease of life and who would imagine you could make a thumping club mix out of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’! well here’s the proof! ‘Kiss You All Over’ and ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’, especially the latter really get you moving. Its a testament to the young guns love for Cilla on these productions as they weren’t born when the originals appeared!

Finally, ‘Beginnings : Revisited, was Cilla’s final album release in 2009 and combined new recordings with classics from her back catalogue again all remixed and given new treatments ‘Imagine’ (with old friend Cliff Richard), ‘Photograph’ ‘If You Could Read My Mind’, ‘Step Inside Love’, are just some of the tracks featured, my personal favourite has to go to ‘This Kiss’ (Faith Hill) always loved the lyrics to that. A lot of these tracks make it on to CD for the first time here. Both sets contain lavish 32 page booklets with a mine of information and some glorious photo’s (ladies you’ll love the Mary Quant clothes!). All in all 2 sets of CD’s celebrating a national treasure. As Cilla would say ‘good on you chuck’.

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

Til next time, stay cool!…………………Colin

 

Andy Qunta… Great review, Colin!

Neil Partrick… Great review, and appreciated by someone who’s always had a soft spot for “our Cill’ “. One tiny gripe: no mention (even in passing) of Alfie? Surely it’s one of her most emotional and powerful performances (and a wonderful song)….. and no competition from Dionne on this one!

Colin Bell… Hi Neil…thanks for your comments, I didn’t mention ‘Alfie’ as its not on either of these releases, but agree its one of her best, cheers Colin

Neil Partrick… Whoops! Sorry Colin. I should check my facts first! Sad omission though – probably due to legal/copyright/ issues?

David Edwards… Not an enthusiast of Cilla Black I’m definitely in the Dionne Warwick camp and for me the difference between Man City and Hastings Utd. and here comes the but, Cilla’s Alfie was wonderful.

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

BLACK FLOWER     Nirvana (UK) CD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Til next time……………….Colin

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

Tony Ham… Got this on vinyl.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Til next time……………………………….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Til then………………….

Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Truth – The Columbia Recordings 1969-1970 by The Flock cd

TRUTH – THE COLUMBIA RECORDINGS 1969-1970   The Flock

I’m guessing that most readers first heard The Flock on the famous CBS ‘sampler’ album ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’ in 1970 (an album that’s been discussed on SMART elsewhere), its where I first picked up on them with their electrifying cover version of The Kinks ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’. Indeed the front cover of FYHWR shows Jerry Goodman of The Flock hair streaming playing like the devil on his electric violin. The Flock hailed from Chicago and had been around since 1966 (as The Exclusives) releasing several singles before recording their eponymous album in 1969 and the following years ‘Dinosaur Swamps’. Both these albums are contained on this new release plus rare and unreleased tracks new to CD. Signed to CBS this hugely musically talented band were part of the jazz/rock scene along with labelmates Chicago (or Chicago Transit Authority as they were then) and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Now both those bands went on to have illustrious careers as we all know. The mystery is why TF didn’t and by 1971 had all but broken up. They don’t know and neither do I. John Mayall saw them play in America in 1969 and told the press ‘The Flock are the best band ive heard in America’ coming from one of the founding fathers of the British music scene this was high praise indeed. Their debut album is so musically innovative its unique fusions of jazz/rock/blues and quality of musicianship is awesome just listen to ‘Introduction’ ‘Clown’ ‘I Am The Tall Tree’ and the aforementioned ‘Tired of Waiting’ and its clear these are guys at the top of their game.  I suppose because they weren’t ‘commercial’ or necessarily airplay friendly in the way of their contemporaries therein lies a large part of why they lost out on the big time. I think they are a musicians band lauded by their peers if not the record buying public. If that first album wasn’t great enough the follow up ‘Dinosaur Swamps’ was if anything even more accomplished ‘Big Bird’ should have been released and promoted as a single it certainly knocks spots off Chicago in my book, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Crabfoot’ are just two more highlights of creativity. Jerry Goodman’s violin and Fred Glicksteins vocals and lead guitar work together so perfectly. After the break up Goodman went off to the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the others went their separate ways. About 10 years ago their was a limited release of some Flock material and I managed to get in touch with Fred Glickstein and had a very interesting chat about the whole Chicago scene, I brought up another favourite of mine The Ides Of March, only for him to say they were good friends of his and they had shared the same bill often! He sent me some photo’s which hang on my wall. Great guy, great musician. This 2CD release has been remastered from the original masters and sonically sounds amazing and is certainly a definitive package with new liner notes by Fred. Anyone who has any interest in jazz/rock and hasn’t got into The Flock you are missing a rare treat. Well done Esoteric Records for a fine and much welcome package. Enjoy.

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

Til next time…….Colin

 

Terry Pack… Great piece, Colin

Peter Howard… My mate John at djtees does a fill your head with rock album cover tee. Pretty cool and it attracts only interesting strangers, who instantly recognize it .

Pete Fisher… remember listening to Fill Your Head With Rock back in 1970 with Bernard Jeffrey at his place.

Steve Reents… I had this album. Interesting fusion of jazz and rock.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Running Free :The Jet Recordings 1976-1977 (2cd) by Widowmaker and Black Is Black -the Anthology 1966-69 (2cd) by Los Bravos

RUNNING FREE : THE JET RECORDINGS 1976-1977 (2CD)    Widowmaker
A new remastered release with a previously unreleased track ‘Talk To Me’. The early to mid 70’s saw what was to become named the formation of ‘supergroups’, musicians from broken up name bands getting together, some to better effect than others. Widowmaker boasted a distinguished line-up. Steve Ellis (Love Affair), Ariel Bender (Mott The Hoople), Huw Lloyd-Langton (Hawkwind), Bob Daisley (Chicken Shack) and Paul Nicholls (Lindisfarne). Signing to Jet Records, run by the infamous Don Arden they released their debut album in 1976 ‘Widowmaker’. 10 tracks and a running time of just 40 minutes most of the songs were written by Ellis and Bender (aka Luther Grosvenor). Running loosely from straight rock to blues rock with some odd country-rock flourishes ‘Pin A Rose On Me’ its Steve Ellis’s powerful vocals and Benders guitar work that catch the attention. Ellis sounding at times like his old friend (and mine) Roger Daltrey and Bender getting in some neat, at times, wigged out guitar.  The overall impression is a good down to earth rocking band in the same vein as Dr. Feelgood. ‘On The Road’ and ‘Straight Faced Fighter’ being two examples. I saw the band open for The Who at Charlton in 76 and I remember thinking they were pretty dynamic live, and therein for me lies the crux, I don’t think the studio output captures that element and that’s a pity and maybe the reason they didn’t sell more records. By the time they came to record their second album ‘Too Late To Cry’ the following year Ellis had departed amongst a clash of, I suspect ego’s and differences, he was replaced by John Butler a acquaintance of Daisley. Butler brought a more laid back vocal to the party and indeed the whole album is certainly less raw, more refined, but for me lacking the bite of the debut outing, there is still some highs ‘Sky Blues’ notably with its Rod Stewartesque vocal and some excellent guitar work. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Ellis stuck around and built on the first album but many ‘supergroups’ met the same fate. All the musicians involved however went on to have long careers. As a time capsule of its time this release does its job and no doubt for fans of the guys involved will be lapped up.

BLACK IS BLACK -THE ANTHOLOGY 1966-69    Los Bravos
2CD’s and 60 tracks that bring together all their A’s and B’s, album and rareties from their beat period. Inevitably and certainly here in the UK they will always be remembered for million seller and No 2 in 1966 ‘Black is Black’, it also made no 4 in the States. From my days of doing disco’s it was always certainly a floor filler, and probably still is at retro nights. Madrid based LB were huge in their native Spain and all over the continent making 2 movies (one sort of Monkees style) Playing at the prestigious San Remo Festival and making many TV appearances. The lead singer Mike Kogel (aka Mike Kennedy) was actually German and could sing in German, Spanish and English! I struggle to sing in English, indeed sing at all! anyway be that as it may I thought I was the only one that thought he sounded remarkably vocally like Gene Pitney but having read the sleeve notes so did many people. Never again achieving the success of BIB their follow up ‘I Don’t Care’ did make a respectable No 16 in the UK charts, and I must confess i’d forgotten it til hearing it again on this compilation. Its fascinating listening to this retrospective and hearing the influences that English beat bands clearly had on them, makes me wonder what other Spanish bands of the Sixties we haven’t heard of that were putting out good stuff. As previously mentioned all their singles and albums are represented here and so you have a mix of songs in English, Spanish and indeed sometimes ‘Spanglish’. Other bands clearly rated them as George Young and Harry Vanda (of Easybeats fame) gave them their original composition ‘Bring A Little Lovin’ prior to recording it themselves. At 60 tracks some may consider it a lot of material to get through for a band famous for one huge seller but there is plenty here to reward listening and its always good to broaden your horizons in my view. If you have an interest in beat bands of the Sixties you will enjoy this I have no doubt. Excellent sound quality and extensive sleeve notes make this latest RPM a definite collectors piece.

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

Til next time……. Colin

Dave Nattress… How I remember Black is Black by Los Bravos!! The Summer of 66 and it was one single of 6 I bought on some special deal from a shop in Bexhill, St Leonards Road, I think the shop was called Boyds half way along on the South side. Sold all electrical goods, record players, stereograms. TV’s and radios and one of several stores selling records obviously. They did some deal where you paid so much every week/month and went away with 6 singles. I also had Paint it Black by the Stones, Opus 17 by the Four Seasons, Pretty Flamingo, Manfred Mann, California Dreaming, Mamas and Papas and one more – long forgotten. Now Widowmaker, tagged as a bit of a Supergroup by some? Contained Steve Ellis on vocals – ex. Love Affair, Ariel Bender, Bob Daisley. Huw Lloyd-Langton, and Paul Nichols – Lindisfarne. A mate had the first album on Vinyl – “Widowmaker”. Played it to death. I have a double CD – 2002, with “Widowmaker”, and tracks off “Too Late to Cry” and “Live at Paris Theatre London”. I think the line-up changed a good bit after the first album maybe didn’t trouble too many sales, but the first album is good.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Two Faces Of Fame – The Complete 1967 Recordings by Georgie Fame (2Cd Deluxe Edition)

THE TWO FACES OF FAME -THE COMPLETE 1967 RECORDINGS  Georgie Fame (2CD Deluxe Edition)

Co-incidentally it was only the other week elsewhere on the site we Smarties were discussing our favourite year in music, which in mine, Alan’s and several others was….1967..and into my letterbox drops this new 2CD set for review.

Why does this concentrate on just 1 year in Georgies long and illustrious career? Simply because it was the year he switched record companies and signed with CBS, a label that had a different approach to how it would promote Georgie. ‘ The Two Faces’ refers to the fact the album consisted of ‘live’ recordings from the Festival Hall and studio recordings and that his music meant different things to different people. Having of course scored two previous huge hits with the pop/r’n’b singles ‘Yeah Yeah’ and ‘Getaway’ casual listeners would probably just think of him as another blue eyed soul/pop singer. But avid fans were only too aware of his main drive which was fusing jazz, swing, r’n’b and soul in his own unique way and with his awesome mastery of his Hammond. A consummate musician he had been playing all the top London clubs like The Flamingo etc for years and numbered The Beatles amongst his fans and peers. He was/is also blessed with a warm vocal style which is instantly recognisable. This deluxe 2cd set is an expanded edition of the original album release with both stereo and mono mixes and a plethora of bonus and some unreleased tracks. The exhaustive liner notes tell the story of this period excellently, its a complicated one! However the mix of material is far ranging and encompasses all the previous elements previously mentioned from the blues of ‘Bluesology’ to the jazz/swing of ‘Green back Dollar Bill’ (a great track!) to the (bonus) old soul standard ‘Knock on Wood’. Now those with good memories will also recall this was also the year of his third big chart hit (included here) ‘The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde’. Space doesn’t permit a long foray into this, however TBOB&C sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the other tracks, lets just say the aforementioned CBS had a vision not shared by Georgie! Personally I also have always had an aversion to it as well! Of course these days fusing jazz with pop is all the rage and paradoxically that makes Georgie as relevant now as he was all those years ago, not that it bothers him one jot I imagine. He’s been making superb classy music for over 5 decades. Ive had the pleasure of working with him twice, solo and when he teemed up with Alan Price (see elsewhere on the SMART pages for that). Ive also seen him playing on at least 3 occasions with Van the Man.

A genuine affable and nice guy he is too. I have to be honest and say I generally shy away from ‘jazz’ its a genre ive never really go into, but Georgies style and fusion makes for a great listen and I have enjoyed listening to this album tremendously. Die hard fans will welcome and treasure this set without a doubt, and more casual listeners like myself will find much to reward listening. Its certainly given me a new perspective or should that be a retrospective view of his art.

For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-two-faces-of-fame-the-complete-1967-recordings/

Til next time………. Colin 

Colin Fox… I still love the sound of Hammond organ through a Leslie speaker.

Andy Qunta… Can’t argue with that, Colin!

Colin Searle… Got that gorgeous warm sound

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Milk Of The Tree: An Anthology Of Female Vocal Folk & Singer-Songwriters 1966-1973 Various Artists CD Set


MILK OF THE TREE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FEMALE VOCAL AND SINGER-SONGWRITERS 1966-73

4 hours and 60 tracks on this brilliant new compilation of one of the greatest era’s of music of the 20th century. As much a social shift as well as a musical one, prior to the mid-sixties you just didn’t hear that much solo female output, especially on the radio, in retrospect it was a largely male dominated pop world.

However with womens liberation gaining (quite rightly) swift progress in 1966 new voices started to make themselves heard. From Greenwich Village coffee houses to laid back canyons in L.A. came artists who would become household names led by Joan Baez, Jackie DeShannon, Melanie, Laura Nyro, Linda Ronstadt and Janis Ian, all included here and to name just a few. Of course it wasn’t just the USA producing new artists our homegrown talent, again included here and again to name just a few included the likes of Beverley Martin, Marianne Faithfull, Sandy Denny, Bridget St. John and Mary Hopkin. This release concentrates on rarer tracks and not the over compiled that is usual. Its hard to pick one highlight from another but personally i’d mention Laura Nyro ‘Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp’ Jackie DeShannon ‘Come And Stay With Me’ (a hit for the aforementioned Marianne Faithfull) Sandy Denny ‘ Late November’ and Buffy Sainte Marie ‘ The Dream Tree’. Buffy ive learnt over the years is a ‘marmite’ artist people either love or loathe her voice, I have everything she’s ever recorded and her lyrics never fail to move me, so I guess you can gather what camp I’m in! Along with all the solo offerings we are also treated to bands such as Stone Poneys, Mellow Candle, Pentangle, Spirogyra, Ithaca and Trees, wonderful. Also some tracks appear for the first time like the female American duo based in London with the wonderful monicker of Emily Muff! This compilation has something for everyone, it may introduce the young to music they weren’t around to hear at the time and equally for those of us that were it’ll get the synapses firing and bring back some memories of a golden era. When did you last here Principal Edwards Magic Theatre?! 3 CD’s a 44 page booklet full of info and great sound. Grapefruit Records show again how good they are at compiling interesting music collections to whet our musical tastebuds. Lets hear it for the girls.   For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk

Til next time……..Colin      

 

Andy Qunta… Great review, Colin! Thanks!