SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing Hello: The Singles Collection 2CD

THE COMPLETE SINGLES COLLECTION    Hello   (2CD set 7T’s Records)
Following in the footsteps of 60’s footstompers The Dave Clark 5 the 4 lads that formed Hello also came from Tottenham, North London.

They were Bob Bradbury (lead vocalist/guitar), Keith Marshall (lead guitar), Vic Faulkner (bass) & Jeff Allen (drums). All born in 1956 they got together as 12 year olds in 1968 calling themselves ‘The Age’ In 1970 they briefly took on their agents daughter Caroline who became their lead singer and were billed as Caroline Hall & The Age. During that year they performed in front of The Queen at the Albert Hall and made an appearance on popular ITV kids show ‘Magpie’. In early 1971 Caroline left and the 4 lads went it alone attracting the attention of Argent member and songwriter Russ Ballard and also gaining an experienced music business man David Blaylock as their manager.  Their debut single was going to be Ballards ‘Can’t Let You Go’ but they were pipped to the post by Barry Ryan’s recording of the song which became a minor hit for him. Instead they released another Ballard composition ‘You Move Me’ in April 1972, a lightweight uptempo pop song which got them on TV’s ‘Lift Off’ (remember Ayshea?). It failed to trouble the charts but it got their faces into the ‘teenybopper’ mags that were popular then like Record Mirror. Their second single in October 72 was another Ballard song ‘C’Mon’ another straightforward upbeat. lightweight pop ditty, with a touch of ‘Crazy Horses’ guitar work. However this too failed to chart for the 4 new school leavers. In May & June of the following year their profile was greatly increased when they became a regular support act for their labelmate and then king of Glam Rock Gary Glitter. This is when i first remember them from, as myself & Chris Gentry were working with Glitter at that time.  Their next single was going to be Dyna-Mite but this ultimately went to Mud and Glitter’s producer Mike Leander was brought on board to fashion a hit sound for the band. The influence of Leander/Glitter was evidenced on their next release’s ‘Another School Day’ & ‘C’Mon Get Together’, neither of which gave them their breakthrough. The band then fell back on an industry favourite by looking for a previous hit record they could revamp in their style. They chose the catchy ‘Tell Him’ a hit for The Exciters & Billie Davis. The single released in August 1974 proved a slow burner but eventually by November it rose to peak at No 6. At last they had a hit, the follow up continued the Glitter connection with The Glitterband’s lead guitarist Gerry Shephard penned ‘Game’s Up’, this however only ‘bubbled under’ the charts for a few weeks in the UK, but was more successful across Europe, especially in Germany (where the band remained popular for years). In May 1975 the band tried another re-tread of a previous hit. This time they chose the Amen Corner/American Breed song ‘Bend Me Shape Me’, however unlike ‘Tell Him’ this failed to repeat the trick and only became a moderate hit in Germany. It was beginning to look a downward slope when the band were handed what would become their ‘magnum opus’ the Russ Ballard composed ‘New York Groove’. Released in August 1975 it took a while again but rose into the Top 10 in October. It’s now probably the main song/reason the band are remembered for, finding it’s way onto dozens of compilation’s and being successfully covered by Ace Frehley of Kiss fame. Despite valiant attempts the band couldn’t come up with another hit and by 1976 they were becoming (along with many others) an anachronism as Punk arrived sweeping away all that remained of the pop rock/glam bands. The band would limp on til the end of the 70’s changing labels in the process but eventually called it a day. This new 40 track compilation from 7T’s Records brings together all their singles for the first time together with a couple of bonus solo tracks by drummer Jeff Allen. It comes complete with a detailed booklet and some nostalgic record cover images. Unlike other Glam Rock band’s, Sweet being the best example. Hello didn’t really evolve or move away from their lightweight roots, which leaves this release, in my view, with a somewhat limited appeal and as such will probably be best enjoyed by completists and lovers of the Glam Rock years.

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

Til next time…….stay safe……Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Crikey! Didn’t realise they had enough tunes to fill 1 CD let alone 2. Couple of good covers and that was it

Colin Bell… Hi Mate, i have to say you are largely right, there is nothing wrong with the other tracks, but they don’t really jump out at you.

Alan Esdaile… I remember interviewing the singer for Melody Maker and all I could think of, was god, I’ve never seen another person as thin as that!

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Looking Through A Glass Onion – The Beatles Psychedelic Songbook 1966-72, Various Artists, 3CD

LOOKING THROUGH A GLASS ONION (The Beatles Psychedelic Songbook 1966-72)   Various Artists

What a great concept this 3CD set is, congratulations all at Grapefruit Records. Right from the first Beatles album issued other bands rushed to make cover versions of their songs and make a quick buck. Remember ‘Girl’ St Louis Union’ & ‘Michelle’ The Overlanders for instance, But as The Beatles became ever more experimental with ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ & of course ‘St. Pepper an increasing number of bands also experimenting with their own sounds started making all sorts of covers in a myriad of styles. This new collection focuses on the psyche/rock/baroque/ efforts of the established and newcomers alike. Kicking the whole proceedings off on Disc1 is Camel turning ‘Mystery Tour’ into a prog rock 6 minute opus, a great start. But it’s track2 Deep Purple’s version of ‘Help’ that makes cpmplete sense of the compilations title. Deep Purple deliver ‘Help’ very much in Vanilla Fudge style all heavy and ponderous and equally wonderful. So not only do you peel back the layers (like an onion) of a bands take on The Beatles original you are also peeling back the Vanilla Fudge approach by Deep Purple! That makes it sound complicated but its not, its very playful and a source of delight throughout the whole 3CD set. You not only get to hear all the different takes of the original songs, there being some 68 tracks there are some songs covered by more than one artist. Thus you can also have the fun and enjoyment of comparing for instance ‘I Am The Walrus’ by Affinity, Spooky Tooth, Lol Coxhill & Octopus. This all makes for a huge amount of listening pleasure and in a lot of cases a voyage of discovery unearthing bands i’ve never heard of amongst the more familiar names to be found. But never fear you will not be left in the dark about a band that’s completely unfamiliar to you, Accompanying is a superb 40 page booklet with mini-biogs on each track, as someone who writes in a similar fashion i stand in awe of the author’s (David Wells) knowledge and research. I’d love to have the space to write and indeed the time to guide you through every track, but that not being possible here are some personal highlights. Disc1 the aforementioned Deep Purple ‘Hush’ Affinity ‘I Am The Walrus’ Kippington Lodge ‘In My Life’ ‘Sounds Nice ‘Flying’ & Orange Bicycle (a band i’ve worked with several times) ‘You Never Give Me Your Money/Carry That Weight. Alongside these you will find more well known tracks by The Tremeloes, The Hollies & Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers. Disc2 Spooky Tooth ‘I Am The Walrus’ The Frugal Sound ‘Norwegian Wood’ The Majority ‘A Hard Days Night’ Bo Street Runners ‘Drive My Car’ familiar names on this disc include Plastic Penny, Big Jim Sullivan, Don Fardon, Stone The Crows & The Shadows. Disc3 Jason Crest (again a localish band i’ve worked with) ‘Come Together’ Affinity ‘A Day In The Life’ The Eyes ‘Good Day Sunshine’ The Ice ‘Day Tripper’, again more familiar names include Circus, The Sorrows, Hardin & York, Tomorrow & finishing the whole collection off the one and only Dame Vera Lynn! Could the list get more eclectic! Running to nearly 4 hours its incredibly good value for your money too. With things being the way they are at present we are missing out on ‘live’ events and locally we have of course had our treasured Beatles Day in the past, a shared event we all miss. This package gives you the opportunity to have your very own ‘Beatles Day’ in the comfort of your own home savouring all these different bands playing your favourite fab four songs. When i was writing my syndicated newspaper column i used to grade new releases 1 – 5 stars, a practice i eventually dropped. Was i still grading i would, with no hesitation whatsoever give this the full 5 stars. Seldom have i had as much fun stepping through the looking glass and discovering so many gems as i have done here. Stay safe everyone. Enjoy.

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

Til next time…………………Colin

 

Colin Bell… I forgot to mention when i wrote the review there will be a new 2CD collection of local band (Tonbridge) Jason Crest released in the next few weeks, First time ALL their recordings in one package. They played Hastings Pier and other local venues in the late 60’s early 70’s. I’ll review the comp in due course. Take care everyone.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Sockin’ It To You by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (3CD deluxe digipak)

SOCKIN’ IT TO YOU   Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels  (3CD deluxe digipak)
I am so pleased to receive this and bring it to you! Amongst some of the first promo singles I received in the second half of the 60’s was a single of ‘Jenny Take A Ride/C.C. Rider’ by then unknown to me band Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Its impact on me was immediate, the record was just bursting out of the speakers with an energy that crackled and fizzed like nothing i’d heard in a long time I became a fan there and then and played the record tirelessly at my mobile disco gigs, if you didn’t want to get up and dance to it you had no pulse! Now RPM Records have released this collection and what a collection it is. Five albums, single’s, non Lp sides and tracks making their CD debut here. All of this material was recorded between 1966 – 1969 for the Bob Crewe owned Dynovoice and New Voice Recordings labels. Bob Crewe as you may know was a prolific (and hugely successful) producer for amongst many others The Four Seasons, The Toy’s and Lou Christie. Mitch & the Wheels had been together for a few years at this point playing and paying their dues around the college/club circuit in the Detroit area, where they had earned a fine live reputation. Its fair to say when you mention Detroit your mind immediately turns to Motown who were producing so many hit singles and making stars of so many acts but if you were a rock orientated kid MR&TDW were THE band you were listening too. There was some crossover in that the band did cover Motown and James Brown, but in their own inimitable style. The next single that I loved was the mash up of Devil With A Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly another slice of pure energy. Now that’s twice (without apology) i’ve used the word ‘energy’ because that is the pure essence of the band, seldom have I ever heard that caught on record in the way that Mitch & the boys managed to do, the nearest comparison I can think of, is those early Geno Washington ‘live’ albums. Mitch’s blue eyed soul vocal, wicked guitar licks and bursts of brass get into you on a visceral level, your head starts to nod, your feet to move and you just tend to smile..a lot! There are so many great tracks on this 65 track definitive overview its impossible to have a favourite or pick out the ‘best’ cuts because the standard is just so consistently high, whether its old standards/favourites like ‘Shake A Tail Feather’, ‘Come See About Me’ ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ ‘Walkin The Dog’or Bob Crewe originals like ‘Sock It To Me’ ‘Shakedown’ ‘I’d Rather Go To Jail’ and ‘Wild Child’ all are delivered in such a satisfying fashion. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Bruce Springsteen live on four occasions (arguably the greatest live performer) and on two occasions he’s played, what he likes to call, ‘The Detroit Medley’ his own tribute to MR&TDW who he holds in the highest esteem, I think that’s praise indeed and quite rightly so. For some inexplicable reason the band are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when some lesser bands I could mention are, a travesty for sure and one which I hope Springsteen, and other high profile fans like Alice Cooper and Bob Seger apply pressure to put right. I have to add my own tribute in that ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ as written by the great Bill Medley and recorded by him and Bobby (Righteous Brothers) is covered and included on this set, and I never thought i’d say this, is bettered by Mitch and the boys, the highest praise I can give from me. Next week on Wednesday (26th) it’ll be Mitch’s birthday, he’ll be 75, and im pleased to say he’s still out there doing what he does best and long may that continue. Thank you RPM for issuing this package, the audio quality and liner notes impeccable as ever. I’ll leave you with this vid from 1966.,,,,,enjoy.

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

Till next time……………………….. Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Highly underated band. Loved ’em!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Definitive Collection by Bar-Kays 3CD Digipak

Very pleased to have this come through for review. The Bar Kays will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons. Firstly their anthem ‘Soul Finger’ was the first promotional 45 I ever received (can’t believe that was 50 years plus ago!) and secondly was used by fellow DJ the great late Stuart Henry as his ‘theme intro’ im sure those of you with long memories will remember and whenever I here it my thoughts return to him and his shows on Radio 1 and Luxembourg (latterly with his wife Ollie) much missed but not forgotten. The history of the Bar Kays is a long and illustrious one from their early soul and r’n’b in the 60’s and 70’s moving into the ultimate funk band in the 80’s. The booklet with this 3CD is a comprehensive and hugely informative read. This release is the first time their recordings have encompassed all the best tracks from Stax, Volt, Mercury, and Warner Bros labels, covering the period from 1967 to 1989. Kicking off on Disc 1 naturally enough with ‘Soul Finger’ released in April 1967 a hit both in the USA, the UK and worldwide, SF was and is a joyous slice of soul and has been covered hundreds of times and used in many movies and still sounds fresh today. The BK’s were Otis Reddings backing band and together a dynamite act. Then in December (10th) 1967 came the terrible tragedy when the plane carrying Otis and 5 members of the band went down killing Otis and 4 members with only the trumpet player Ben Cauley surviving. Ben along with bassist James Alexander (who was travelling on a separate plane) bravely rebuilt the band with later Larry Dodson on lead vocals who stayed fronting the band from 1970 until his retirement in 2017. The BK’s were the ‘house band’ for so many of Stax/Volt artists of the day. For me their greatest contribution in that form was backing Isaac Hayes on his seminal 1969 album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ which is my all time favourite soul album and one I still listen to regularly to this day. As aforementioned Disc 1 covers this early period and contains some classics ‘Son Of Shaft’ ‘Don’t Stop Dancing’ ‘Money Talks’ and Shut The Funk Up’ are just some of the highlights. The fat bassline on ‘Six O’clock News’ is just sublime. Disc 2 gets more into a funk mood with the opener ‘Give it Up’ an irresistible groove which sets the tone for classics like ‘Move Your Boogie Body”Get Up’N Do It’ (giving James Brown more than a run for the money] ‘Boogie Body Land’ ‘Traffic Jammer’ and ‘Night Cruising’ are just a few more of the highlights, but there’s truly not a weak track to be found. The final Disk 3 is even funkier (if that’s possible!) kicking off with ‘She Talks To Me With Her Body’ ‘Sexomatic’ ‘Freakshow On The Dance Floor’ ‘Dirty Dancer’ and ‘Do It’ are just some of the featured tracks that make you just wan’t to get up and dance, if you’re not feeling it you better check your pulse! Many of the tracks were hits in the USA if not so readily known here (only getting airtime on specialist shows). To sum up this is a stellar collection of 46 tracks with some truly outstanding music created by truly outstanding musicians. Five stars all the way and well done Robinsongs label for getting this out there. Release date is 8th March. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……..Colin

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Time Hasn’t Changed Us – Love Affair & Steve Ellis

love affair

‘TIME HASN’T CHANGED US’ (complete CBS recordings 1967-1971} Love Affair/Steve Ellis

L.A. are no doubt remembered famously, or should that be infamously, for being ‘outed’ for not playing on their hits. When ‘Everlasting Love’ hit No.1 in February 1968 the music press had a field day. Well it was no surprise to me, or anyone else in the business. I could write a list as long as my arm of ‘bands’ doing the same then and now.
So leaving all that to one side what did we have? Over roughly an 18 month period 5 beautifully crafted pure pop songs. Kicking off of course with ‘Everlasting Love’ followed by ‘Rainbow Valley’ (a personal favourite) both covers of Robert Knight American releases. Phillip Goodhand-Tait a very talented songwriter gave L.A. their next 3 hits with ‘A Day Without Love’, ‘One Road’ and ‘Bringing on Back The Good Times’ and then it was basically all over. Steve Ellis with his blue eyed soul voice, reminiscent of Steve Marriot moved on to a solo career with mixed levels of success. L.A. recruited Gus Eadon and soldered on but with little success. This 3CD set neatly divides the years with CD1 focusing on the hit period and cover versions of contemporary hits by other artists e.g. ‘Hush’, ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ etc.
CD2 kicks off with another great PGT song ‘Baby I Know’ and a recently discovered acetate, yet again by PGT, ‘Time Hasn’t Changed Us’ which would surely have given L.A. another big hit had it seen the light of day.
Takes on ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Walk on Gilded Splinters’ make for interesting listening. By track 8 Steve Ellis has left the building and the aforementioned Gus Eadon takes over, sounding remarkably like Paul Jones at times. CD3 is devoted to Ellis’s solo recordings, such as ‘Loot’ (from the film) and a plethora of ‘covers’ ranging from Jimmy Webbs ‘Evie’ to ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ ‘Somethings Gotten Hold of My Heart’ ‘Holly Holy'(probably Neil Diamonds worst song!) ‘Gimme Shelter’ etc an eclectic mix, some work well others frankly (for me) don’t. This is the first ‘anthology’ to get a comprehensive release, sound quality is excellent, the lush orchestral arrangements that featured so prominently on the hits fill the speakers, informative sleeve notes and packaging is to a high standard. Overall to sum up a satisfying package for completists and fans. And whether you agree or disagree on the issue of session musicians at the end of the day some great pop music was created that has stood the test of time.    For more information go to http://www.cherryred.co.uk/rpm/

Til next time…………colin-head-111x150

 

Barry Newton… Its been awhile since I last heard this, good times

Dave Nattress… Everlasting Love – fabulous pop single and so reminds me of my school days. I have a cassette of the LA hits and have often thought of getting a CD – will look out for this one as the sound on the old cassette is a bit poor now. Steve Ellis also went on to form Widowmaker a quite often (back then), so-called Supergroup with Ariel Bender, Paul Nicholls, Huw Lloyd-Langton and Bob Daisley, and did one album but then left. Widowmaker then made a 2nd called Too Late to Cry. A friend had the vinyl of the first album yonks back and I’ve got a CD containing the first album, some live tracks and some off the 2nd album.

Sandra Cunningham… Saw them on the pier about 1968 I think x

Mick O’Dowd… Steve Ellis has always been a rated singer in my books.