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.

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Till next time……………………….. Colin

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

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.
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Til next time…………………Colin


Review/Thoughts On Factory Reunion Gig by Colin Bell.


photo supplied by Factory Facebook page.

Well…prior to Friday night i’d promised Andy,Tony,Jaffa and Lol a review of the gig. I cannot write a dispassionate ‘review’ as Sarah H has already posted the night was full of nostalgia, memories and emotion, bang on Sarah. It wasn’t just a gig it was an event. Forty four years on from writing the first review of Factory for my column the years as ive already posted melted away. From launching off with Call of The Wild to closing with Born to Be Wild the guys set the Carlisle on fire, displaying an energy many a younger band would struggle to find. Castle on The Hill, Angel from the Sky, Behind Blue Eyes (loved it) a reference back to the Daltrey days, Am I Mad all simply great. By the time Lols Jig/Jig a Jig arrived, Tony your fiddle playing and acrobatics..amazing I was watching the huge smiles on the faces all around me. And there you have it the crux of a gig the way you make your audience feel, clearly mesmorised.
So many memories and emotions running through so many years. And for the younger guys there a chance to see what talent Hastings has produced and continues to do. Time Machine sounded as powerful, if not more so, than 1970!
The ‘encore’ of Same Old Story and Born To Be Wild closed a night we’ll all remember for a long time. And speaking of a long time, I don’t think I can hang on another 40 years to write the next review! Come back soon. And Lol I expect you to use those sticks I gave you, even if they are nearly as big as you!

Yvonne Cleland… May I add – Andy as host, guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player and athlete was a dynamo who held it together as a show, Laurie on drums was a daemon whose faces, antics, singing and drumming were mesmorising and held the music together – along with Jaffa who also kept the rhythm section together with superb bass-playing, and whose clear vocals moved me to tears at one point, and last but not least the extraordinary Tony Qunta whose virtuoso playing on guitar and violin is something I will never forget. What jigs. What a night. Unbelievable. I’m so grateful I could be there. I want more. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Andy Qunta… Thanks, Colin! Everybody has been very kind! We gave it our all, and had a great time! See you at the next one! Yes – there will be a next one!

Mark Praid… A first time for me and I was smiling through and through. A great show.

Peter Millington… Did anyone video this memorable event? Such things weren’t possible in the early 1970s but surely now it must have been captured.

Phil Thornton… very nostalgic for me ! – my first experience of bands was going to Factory practices at ‘Hatters’ and roadieing for them in order to get in to their gigs free !  I was about 14 at the time and should not have been in most of the venues !!

Dave Nattress… To Factory and all the guys and girls who have posted follow-up messages, somehow this really, really, touched us all and that it was so very, very long ago since we last saw the band – 40 years, or so, obviously made it so much better and such an incredible event. Just think back, what the heck have we all done in the last 40 odd years, where we’ve been, loved, lost, maybe loved and found again, where we’ve worked, friends and family we’ve lost, friends and families we now have – all the good and bad that’s happened in this world, so very much in that time and for those of us lucky enough, we got back together for a few hours. Sorry, this has got a bit of a screed – I’m just knocked out and jet/time-lagged, that Factory were so good!!!!

Andy Qunta… Well put, Dave! I know what you mean!

Mike Curtis… It was quite simply a very special evening. And I can tell people that “I was there”. Still buzzing!

Jim Breeds… My legs ached so much the next morning! I was hopping up and down and bouncing on my toes most of the night. It seems that I may not be 18 any more! When did that ‘appen!?



photo by Terry Wright