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…

Samantha’s Club – New Burlington Street. What clubs and venues do you remember in London? Tiffanys Club and Gullivers People chat.

img245

All images supplied by Colin Bell

Colin Bell… I was looking for something in my archives (I must organise them one day!) and came across this. I was struck by the artwork and how creative it was then. Samantha’s was in a basement off Regent Street and I was introduced to it on a night out with Clem (from the Foundations) and Jimmy James, from memory  it was around late 1969 early 1970. A great place with soul bands appearing and the D.J. ‘booth’ was the body of an E Type Jag (very swinging sixties). Drinks 2/6d! You could get well pissed for a coupla quid! I was lucky enough at that time to have the use of a mate’s flat in Berwick Street Soho, ideally placed to go to all the great clubs. Many hours spent at the Marquee, Whisky-a-go-go, the Flamingo, Middle Earth and Hatchetts in Piccadilly, a great club over 3 floors with a chill out bar level, a restaurant with a glass wall overlooking the ‘disco’ floor. I’d be interested to hear any memories of this period from other Smart members? Great times and great memories…………..

Alan Esdaile… Happy days in Wardour Street at The Marquee. Also the Speakeasy. Also remember auditioning bands at Tiffanys nightclub in Shaftesbury Avenue and a club in Piccadilly with the disco on the top floor, mirrored lift and the club had records stuck to the wall. 100 club, Roxy, Ronnie Scotts etc.

Peter Fairless… Went to some dodgy, some good clubs in London. Some were very dodgy but very good! Can’t remember all the names but most of those listed above.

Steve Gage… My mate Ray was a bouncer at Samanthas where are you now mate??? 🙂

Mick O’Dowd… Went to The Q Club in Paddington after seeing James Brown at The Rainbow in the 70’s I think. JB turned up after we got there and jammed with the band. Awesome!

Read moreSamantha’s Club – New Burlington Street. What clubs and venues do you remember in London? Tiffanys Club and Gullivers People chat.

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

Factory & Effigy – Clive Vale Annexe. Fri 7th May 1971 & YMCA review 13th August 1971

Supplied by Jon McCallion

Andy Qunta… Ah! Good times!

Phil Gill… I was there, probably with young Carey, Meachen and Shirley, as they labelled us at school. Sarah Harvey might have enjoyed the evening too.

Sarah Harvey…. I did indeed Phil and I had. completely forgotten about Effigy and to be honest cannot remember seeing them at all other than a vague memory that I didn’t think much of them. Factory as ever were THE band of Hastings at the time.

Chris Baker… Hah! Flight of the Rat was one of my “Flashy” solos! Those were the days! We only did a few gigs.

Phil Gill… As I recall Chris, you showed me how to play the pedal note riff from Flight of the Rat, one night at an Effigy rehearsal that Roger Carey and I attended. Was it School Road in Ore? Roger was buying Iain Cobby’s speaker cabinet and we came along to look at it.

Brigitte Lee… Where was Clive Vale Annex?

Chris Baker… Ha! Phil! My arthritic old fingers can’t play it so fast these days! Fun to so though. Still got that analog Park Fuzzbox too and the old Hofner!

Geoff Peckham… I remember we (Factory) were really impressed with Effigy. Didn’t they do a couple of other Deep Purple covers? Speed King, and Child in Time? According to Andy’s diary we played with them twice in 1971. May 7th at Priory Road School. Andy said that school gigs have been “…really great. This was no exception. Bit of trouble from old ladies and police about the noise but never mind. Effigy supported (or did we support them?) – not bad for their first gig.” The second was at the YMCA on August 13th. Andy mentions the awful acoustics and that “Effigy (with Tom) supported.” Could that have been the legendary Tom Jones? (The one from Stoke, not S. Wales!)

Phil Gill… And Steve’s drumming was *never* too loud. End of.

John Wilde…. Tom Jones, any info on his history or where he is now?

Geoff Peckham…. I got to know Tom in ’69 when his dad had an electrical shop in Western Rd, Bexhill. He told me stories about being in a pre-Black Sabbath band called Horny Moon (!) and other tales. He was a great character and raconteur. Like you, he had great stage presence – a great blues singer and harpist. He moved back to Stoke, and around 73-74 turned up at a Factory gig in NE Staffs University. I think he put us up for the night. Haven’t seen him since. Anyone else know anything? Be good to see you again sometime.

Alan Esdaile…yes it was School Road Ore where the rehearsals took place, in the old church hall which was full of antiques and clobber and the band squeezed somehow in the middle. I think their was a giant stuff bear but maybe wrong? Geoff Peckham date is correct as Friday 7th May 1971. Clive Vale Annex was part of Priory Road School and the gig took place at Clive Vale. Jon McCallion sung with Effigy at this gig and glad you remembered Tom Jones. I got a review somewhere which I will post on the YMCA gig shortly.

Read moreFactory & Effigy – Clive Vale Annexe. Fri 7th May 1971 & YMCA review 13th August 1971

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.

 

Chicken Shack, Ardon & Colin Bell – Hastings Pier Friday 25th May 1973

13330_369636718709_2586655_n chicken shack 25th may 1973 - chicken shack

supplied by Mick Mepham

Phil Gill… Remember this one well. Had a talk with Stan Webb afterwards. He was a right miserable bugger.

Terry Huggins… I remember going to this one too. Can’t recall much about it as I met a young lady. Didn’t they make the support band play in front of the stage instead of on it, or am I thinking of someone else?

Alan Esdaile… Can’t remember Terry and can’t recall the band ‘Ardon’. I will see if Colin remembers.

Pete Prescott… The second gig I played was supporting chicken shack in Jan 73.i was in a band called village. It was at kemsley town hall. I was 16 and terrified ! Helen tap was there.

Joe Knight… great sound!!!

Eric Cawthraw… Yep, I was at this one. By then it was the ‘Stan Webb show’, the rest of the band didn’t really get much of a look in. Proper old showman guitaring and still a very enjoyable evening.

Pete Fisher… pretty sure I was there…Stan Webb had a specially long guitar lead back then, and used to make a feature of going walkabout into the audience…before the days of wireless systems (pioneered by Angus)…years later (1990) I saw Buddy Guy at the Albert Hall, and when Clapton annonced him, you heard his guitar but he was nowhere to be seen on stage…minutes later he stood up in the middle of the audience, where he’d been hiding, and walked up to the stage, playing via his wireless system…cool trick!

Nigel Ford… I remember seeing Ardon some time on the Pier (didn’t keep a diary until late ’73) and after playing a couple of numbers the frontman said “we’re ARDON….do you get it ?”

Jan Warren… Oh yeah, Chicken Shack.didn’t they do “I’d rather go blind”?! – love that song!! xx

Gerry Fortsch… Stan Webb, brilliant saw him gig with Canned heat great.

More Colin Bell photos. Hastings Caves setting fire to his hands 1970/71 and working with Freddie Starr

img799

img798 img797 img796

supplied by Colin Bell

Alan Esdaile… Just noticed that’s the back of my head in the first photo. Colin’s setting his hands on fire with lighter fluid and giving me bad ideas. When I did it, I left my hands alight too long, blisters with yellow puss come to mind!

Mick Mepham… A yellow cat Alan?

Andy Qunta… Never forget how much fun it was lugging gear down to the Caves! The sound down there was interesting too! Echo….echo…..echo…. & “natural” reverb!

Mick O’Dowd…. A real rock venue! I agree Andy Qunta it was a long trek especially in inclement weather, but a great venue I promoted & played at several times. It’s rumoured that the Stones played a private gig here in early 60’s. The walk was as nearly as bad as the trek up the Pier to The Happy Ballroom!

Yvonne Cleland… <groan>

Jim Breeds… So *That’s* why there are no hamsters in the caves!

Alan Esdaile… Did a number of gigs in the Caves. Always had lots of helpers to lug the gear in but they all disappeared when it was time to pack up! A bit of a walk and worse then the pier as no trolley. All the leads and cables ended up covered in sand stone. Saw lots of great gigs here, remember seeing The Jazz Caverners a few times and The Breathers did an excellent gig.

Peter Gladwish… I will never forget playing at the caves several times during the early 70’s with ‘King-Rod’. Fabulous place to play but it’s not the gigs I remember…….it was getting the gear in and out!!!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Girl In A Million (The Complete Recordings) Twinkle 2cd set

GIRL IN A MILLION (The Complete Recordings)  Twinkle
Housed in a deluxe digipack, as the title suggests, this release brings together all of Twinkle’s output for the first time, from the hit Decca period through to later releases on Instant. President and Bradleys. Twinkle (real name Lynn Ripley) is of course remembered for ‘Terry’ a so called (by the press) ‘death disc’ coming on the heels of others like ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ and the Shangri-La’s ‘Leader of The Pack’ released a couple of months before ‘Terry’ became a no.4 hit in December 1964. ‘Terry’ might have been a simplistic teenage angst song, however it should be noted that she was a mere 14 when she wrote it, and having racked my brain I can’t think of another female singer/songwriter who had been in the charts before. Twinkle’s background couldn’t have been any further from the world she was writing about. Growing up in a mansion in Surrey hers was a world of priviledge and wealth, she attended school with the likes of Camilla Parker-Bowles, frequented Royal Ascot and went to the South of France with Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. She was however a rebel and from a tender age hung out at London clubs Esmeralda’s Barn (notoriously owned by the Krays at one time) and The Cromwellian. Her boyfriend was Dec Cluskey (the Batchelors) and it was Dec that arranged the demo of ‘Terry’ to be heard by Decca, who immediately signed her. Although she’ll always be remembered for ‘Terry’ there was so much more to Twinkle. Her follow up single ‘Golden Lights’ is a glorious slice of pop and one of my own personal favourite female vocal songs of the 60’s, a view shared by Morrisey in the 80’s when he covered it in The Smiths, he simply loved her.
Her vocal on Golden Lights is far more representative of her work, highlights of Disc 1 include ‘Aint Nobody Home By Me, ‘Tommy’, a great cover of Skeeter Davis’s ‘The End Of The World’ , ‘Micky’ an insanely catchy earworm of a song (not the Toni Basil song!) and topped off with the previously unissued live ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee’ (Small Faces), which could have come from the NME Poll Winners show? Disc 2 mainly comprises of the ‘Michael Hannah’ LP.
Michael was the great love of Twinkle’s life who died at an early age in a plane crash, the songs are poignant ‘Caroline’ ‘Joanna’ and ‘Soldier’ in particular and shows the fragile state of Twinkles mind at the time. Concluding the set under ‘Later Recordings’ is a take on Neil Diamonds ‘I’m A Believer’ and her self penned ‘Holiday Romance’ another glorious and mature track. Twinkle was never concerned with the money and adulation of the music business, in her won words she ‘just wanted to be famous’. Well she certainly achieved her goal. Sadly after a five year battle with cancer she passed away on the 21st May 2015 after a happy life. RIP Twinks and thanks for the music. The 2cd set is released this Friday 19th on RPM Records,

Til next time……………..Happy Easter To All,

Colin

Alan Esdaile… According to Keith Tooke, Twinkle spent here honeymoon in Hastings 72/73 staying at the Queens Hotel.

Tony Court-holmes… poor girl

Sue James… I have Terry the single

Josie Lawson… I loved this song. I had the 45 record. Must have worn it out. Played and played it cos my first boyfriend had a motorbike..no he didn’t crash but he broke my heart. Anyway, listening today and seeing Twinkle singing it, in my opinion didn’t give the same impact. I find this with many songs. Listening to them either from record, tape, radio gives them more of an impact than seeing the singers sing them. There has only being two singers in my opinion who are great at both and that are Gerry from Gerry and the Pacemakers and Gene Pitney…

Pete Brazier… Can’t wait! Sounds like A Good Album to get!

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.