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 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.

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 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 Something Here In My Heart (The Complete Recordings 1968-1970) The Paper Dolls cd

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

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

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

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

Til next time……………………………….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Til then………………….

Colin