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.

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……………………………….