The Everly Brothers' decade with Warner Brothers Records (1960 to
'70) was once the most neglected back catalog of the Spectropop
era . . . . . Suddenly, we are overwhelmed with thoughtful, draconian accounts of this fertile Everly period. Aside from Euro-Warners' ongoing series of twofer reissues of the Bros' original WB LPs, each loaded with rare bonus tracks, and Collector's Choice's unimaginative single-disc sets, Bear Family in Germany has just birthed a seven-disc boxed set, "The Price Of Fame". In addition, Varese Vintage has swiftly coughed up "Too Good To Be True" and "Give Me A Future", two amazing discs of Everlys songwriting demos from the '50s to the '70s.
From famine to feast, so suddenly: it's almost too much to take
in! Let's concentrate on "From Nashville To Hollywood",
the first in a series that will gather non-LP tracks, alternate
versions, and outright-unissued material from the WB period. While
not everything on this disc can be considered rare, its 25 tracks
make a strong case for granting Don and Phil Everly belated studio
genius status. Like Brian Wilson, Sloan-Barri, Barry-Greenwich and
other performing/producing artists, the brothers Everly were de
facto producers for most of their 1960s material. Alas, some of
their most daring and complex material never saw the light of day.
Had the Everlys not split acrimoniously with their controlling
producer-publisher, Wesley Rose, in 1960, this privilege might never
have been granted them. As Andrew Sandoval's fine liner notes reveal,
it was Don's obsession with recording a Wall Of Sound-ish version
of the Bing Crosby pop standard "Temptation" that got
the boys kicked out of the Rose-garden. Wesley Rose simply didn't
want the Everlys to record a piece of music his powerful publishing
company, Acuff-Rose, didn't hold in its copyrights. The break with
Rose cost the Everlys access to the song-writing services of Felice
and Boudleaux Bryant, Nashville's smartest cleffers of the early
rock era. Nor, ironically, could Don and Phil easily call upon their
own skill as writers. They were Acuff-Rose contract writers, and
any song they wrote meant Wesley Rose still had some control over
Their sessions now ping-ponged from Nashville to Hollywood. They
snuck in a handful of songs under the nom de plume of "Jimmy
Howard", belatedly hitched their wagon to the Screen Gems stable
of writers, and even raided the hoariest of old standards and show-tunes
in a desperate search for material. That's where we find the brothers
Everly on this disc. It opens with the second of three versions
of "Temptation". (The first and third are included as
extras on the twofer disc "It's Everly Time/A Date With...",
WB EU CD 9362 47869-2.) It's very similar to the released version
-- a bit more passionate and yearning, a little less grand in scope.
Don Everly clearly had a vision of a new sound for pop music. That
the final version of "Temptation" was a Top 40 hit validated
his vision, but Don (and Phil) were unable to commercially expand
upon this recording's fascinating premise.
The Everlys next applied their alchemy to the Gerry Goffin/Jack
Keller song "Little Hollywood Girl". We hear two distinctive
approaches to this downbeat ditty. The first version, taped in Hollywood,
is a bouncy mid-tempo piece with sprightly percussion and a girlie
chorus. Sensing they hadn't quite nailed the song, the Everlys took
it to Nashville for a remarkable re-make. After a lugubrious, classical-flavored
piano intro, a sinuous, slow, brooding beat pulses through the song.
The Everlys elongate the song's syllables in their trademark vocal
harmony. It becomes a completely new song, filled with desperation
and loneliness, where the Hollywood version was almost hopeful in
its sound and feel. This second version of "Little Hollywood
Girl" is truly a lost gem of early '60s pop. Alas, it would
never see the light of day. (The Crickets would issue a Bobby Vee-ish
version of the tune later in 1962.)
By that time, Don was newly obsessed with a Henry Mancini-inspired
piece from his own hand -- "Nancy's Minuet". This striking,
eerie song was a dark sequel to "Cathy's Clown", their
1960 smash. Slicing tremolo guitar and harsh harpsichord frames
this haunting piece of pop melancholy. Not content with this seemingly
fine version, the Everlys played with the arrangement, and literally
turned the song inside out for a curious alternate version. The
song's lyrics are pruned down, and the tempo slowed down to a somnambulistic
drag, and the brothers' vocals sound sluggish. They quite correctly
decided to try the song once again, and the results were an Everly
masterpiece. The youthful yearning, the hints of romantic obsession,
and the melancholy of their entire career were summed up in two
minutes and three seconds. "Nancy's Minuet" was issued
on the B-side of a 1963 single, to no acclaim whatsoever. It must
have been frustrating to the Everlys to spend so much time on these
studio experiments, which were costing somebody a lot of money,
and have the results ignored by the public and their peers. (This
final version is heard as a bonus cut on the twofer "Sing Great
Country Hits/Gone Gone Gone", WB EU 5046 75830-2.)
These three stellar experiments, in their many forms, frame a grab
bag of alternate takes, non-hit singles, and unissued material.
There is one bona-fide hit here: "How Can I Meet Her",
another Goffin-Keller piece that is a virtual template of the Merseybeat
sound, harmonicas and all. While it's about as rare as snowfall
in Siberia, it fits the context of the CD's theme.
Goffin-King fanatics will be pleased by the inclusion of four songs
from 1962 Everly sessions. "Nice Guy" and "What About
Me", while not among their strongest material, are appealing
confections, much more on the country side than their other work
from this period. Better, both as song and performance, is their
version of "I Can't Say Goodbye To You", beautifully remastered
and rescued from its gutless mix on the 1977 rarities disc "The
New Album". The Everlys also had first crack at "Chains",
which they taped several months before the Cookies' Top 20 hit version.
Twanging electric guitars, crisp drums and clever use of tambourine
(to simulate the song's subject), topped with the Everlys' driving
harmony vocals, give to this original version of "Chains"
the feeling of a sure-fire hit. Yet they didn't release it.
A 1962 pairing that was released, but barely scraped the Top 50,
was more subtly innovative. "Don't Ask Me To Be Friends"/"No
One Can Make My Sunshine Smile" showed a growing maturity in
the Everly sound, and in the brothers' vocal performances. These
two Goffin-Keller songs were solid, melancholy pop material, and
the Everlys took completely different approaches with each. To the
almost painful mood of the topside, sprightly acoustic guitars,
a deep, brooding rhythm track and dramatic strings frame Don and
Phil's mid-range, close harmonies movingly. It's an emotionally
complex lyric for '62, and the Everlys sell it with grace and heart.
On the B-side, the catchy-eerie "Sunshine" keeps the mandolin-like
acoustics, adds Nashville slip-note piano and offers one of the
best rhythm tracks in Spectropop history. Don and Phil bring something
special to a song that, in other hands, might just seem a flyweight
piece. An alternate take, recorded one week before the released
version, offers a bar mitzvah sax section and tremeloed electric
guitar. It is, quite honestly, a big mess. There's also one important
chord change missing. It's surprising how different the song is
without that one little touch.
We hear dress rehearsal and final version of the A-side to "Nancy's
Minuet", Arthur Altman's stately "(So It Was...So It Is)
So It Always Will Be". As with "Little Hollywood Girl",
the two takes here are completely different. The first version has
a crawling, deep feeling, with almost inaudible background noodling
on an electric organ. Those guitars from "Sunshine" are
back for the final draft. This version is airy, dreamy and intensely
romantic, with a pop-tango tempo to the song's bridge and a beautiful
Two of my obscure Everly faves are here: Sonny Curtis' sweet, so-sad
"Whatever Happened To Judy?" and Jim Gordon's intense,
doomy, minor-keyed "I'm Afraid". The latter, one of the
darkest songs in the Everly catalog, is also heard via an alternate
take with brooding, ultra-tremelo guitar, a James Bond-ish hook,
and clams galore, as the musicians feel their way through the ad-hoc
arrangement. Two takes of Roger Miller's witty "Burma Shave"
offer a rare glimpse of the Everlys in the studio, calling the shots.
An alternate version skids to a halt, 15 seconds in: an Everly complains,
"That's too slow," and demonstrates the desired tempo
by smacking the back of his hands together. The Nashville cats catch
on quickly, and switch from trot to gallop for a galvanizing shot
of pioneering country-rock. To hear the released versions alongside
the alternates, throughout this disc, illustrates dramatically how
much the Everlys were using the recording studio as a sonic laboratory.
They weren't afraid to explore diverse ideas -- to basically spend
a lot of time (and tape) playing with songs, futzing with instruments
and tempos, coming up with fascinating ideas and discarding them
as easily as they came.
"From Nashville To Hollywood" makes a convincing bid
for the Everly Brothers as more than mere performers, or songwriters.
Don and Phil were aware that the recording studio was, itself, an
instrument, and that songs were pliable, not cast in stone, and
subject to dramatic re-thinkings at a moment's notice. Without much
fanfare, their studio experimentation has been overlooked. Had some
of these cuts been issued, back in the day, they might have changed
the faltering fortunes of these immensely talented siblings. I hope
it helps them out in 2005.
(Frank M. Young, December 2005)
The Everly Brothers "From Nashville To Hollywood" (Warner Brothers EU CD 5046-75829-2)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/79hnt
and here: http://tinyurl.com/cjv9e
Other Everly Brothers CDs: http://tinyurl.com/az4ba
Kim Weston should have been a major player at Motown but somehow
stardom just kept on eluding her . . . . . My first encounter
with Kim was on the legendary British TV programme, Ready, Steady,
Go! A very beautiful, young American singer from Detroit walked
slowly and appealingly down a staircase, hair piled high with a
diamante brooch perched on the front of it. And best of all, she
was singing "A Little More Love". I bought that single
on Stateside Records that very weekend and I've been in love with
her sometimes soft and seductive, sometimes harder edged voice for
almost 40 years now.
It was in the late 1980s that unreleased songs started to escape
illegally from Motown's vaults and many British fans, including
me, eagerly bought cassette tapes for a tenner or so. Crackly, often
speeded up songs delighted us and any old quality satisfied us for
a while. But soon we were longing for clean, properly remastered
songs and, at last, Universal has come up with the goods - and more.
Just recently, Universal Records in Great Britain has released
Kim Weston's "The Motown Anthology", which brings together
the best and most widely know of her released hit tracks and nearly
40 previously unreleased songs in fabulously clear, digitalised
This double CD gives us access to the majority of Kim's solo performances
at Motown. And what performances they are! Kim was the Motown artiste
par excellence, who could turn her voice from bitter into sweet
in just a few lines of a song. This is most evident in "You
Hit Me Where It Hurt Me". The quiet pleading of the verse changes
into the frantic, angry outburst of the chorus. Kim makes it more
than obvious that she is normally sweet lady who will change mood
in the twinkling of an eye. She makes it clear that she ain't to
be messed with!
Kim's own preference for big show tunes over her faster, more popular
dance numbers like "Helpless" and "Take Me In Your
Arms (Rock Me A Little While)", is well documented. When we
spent some time with Kim at Hemsby in October, she wanted to listen
to just one track - "Joey Joey" from the musical The Most
Happy Fella, written by Frank Loesser. A faraway, wistful look in
her eyes disappeared as she closed them and was transported to a
happier place as she sang along to the track. She told us that she
liked show tunes because "they stretched me vocally."
I should also add that there was no difference in quality between
her recorded voice of 40 years ago and that which she displayed
in a humble apartment in the cold Norfolk atmosphere of that Motown
Weekender. I should also add here that she tore the place apart
that weekend with an outstanding display of showmanship and sheer
There is also more than enough evidence of Berry Gordy's practice
of having several artistes record the same song. Then came the cutthroat
decisions that had to be made by Quality Control about which version
was to be released. No feelings were spared in these meetings. Here
we have Kim's often original, first recorded versions of songs made
more familiar by Brenda Holloway ("Hurt A Little Every Day"),
Martha & the Vandellas ("Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)",
"I Know His Name (Only His Name)" and "Come And Get
These Memories"), the Marvelettes ("Marionette"),
the Supremes ("Your Wonderful Sweet, Sweet Love" and "I'm
The Exception To The Rule") and finally, Miss Mary Wells ("Drop
In The Bucket"). Kim's versions stand up more than well to
any of these other artiste's interpretations.
Kim's main producer was her husband, Mickey Stevenson, about whom,
she told us, "I had big arguments in the studio because he
always wanted me to sing the way he wanted me to." However,
she also worked with Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson, Ronald
White (of the Miracles), Norman Whitfield, Bob Hamilton, Ivy Jo
Hunter and Hank Cosby. Outstanding examples of their collaborations
are all included here.
With such top-drawer names working with her, I find it amazing
that Kim was never a major star at Motown. Her vocal prowess and
capabilities are evident on all of these tracks. However, Kim remained
a second-string artiste with Motown and the amount of time between
her 45 releases was lengthy. There was certainly no favouritism
shown to Kim just because she was Mrs. Mickey Stevenson.
Here we have a 2 CD set, which certainly sets the record straight
for Kim Weston, who was such a prolific recording artiste for Berry
Gordy. We have some of Motown's best-kept secret tracks on this
release that we have waited almost 40 years to hear. We can now
listen to the best of Kim's solo work and marvel at a lady who can
sing show tunes, torchy songs, big soulful ballads and very loud,
powerful out and out dancers with equal aplomb.
Buy this release and come to love Kim's work as much as I do. Remind
yourself of just how good she was. It's a shame that you couldn't
all have been at Hemsby to see just how good she remains.
(David Bell, December 2005)
Kim Weston "The Motown Anthology"
(Universal / Motown 983 160-5)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/aobbd
After much anticipation, I got to see Jersey Boys: the Story of
Frankie Valli & The Four Saesons, last Thursday . . . . .
The show was at the August Wilson Theatre on 52nd Street. It was
a thoroughly entertaining experience. The characters handled the
Seasons' songbook with a lot of energy with the audience clapping
and stomping along with them. The show was very well received.
In addition to the flawless interpretation of the Seasons' recordings,
the cast depicted the inner workings of the group, much of which
would have been unknown even to their staunchest fans. Surprisingly,
there was a lot of emphasis on Tommy Devito and Nick Massi, two
guys who have come down in history as mere band members. Tommy Devito's
role in the early years seemed to be extensive. His presence gave
the show a strong New Jersey edge, something that the producers
were clearly trying to push.
There was some nice attention to detail. I liked when the show
featured the Seasons' work as back-up singers in the early days.
A character playing Hal Miller comes on and the whole ensemble rocks
to "An Angel Cried". A couple of the songs got big build-
ups as the audience's expectation was heightened: "Sherry"
and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". The reception for these
was rapturous and well deserved. The appearance of the horn section
for the latter song was memorable.
I have seen a number of musicals over the last year or so. Some
sway towards the music, such as Dancing In The Streets, some towards
the drama, as in the Joe Meek story, Telstar. Jersey Boys does the
best job in combining both elements. The musical
performances are excellent and the dramatic parts are engrossing.
Finally, Spectropoppers have their very own Mama Mia. I so totally
recommend this to fellow members.
(Mike Edwards, November 2005)
Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Broadway Show: http://www.jerseyboysbroadway.com/
Original Cast Recording CD: http://tinyurl.com/chqzs
Jackie DeShannon had been recording and performing for no less than
8 years when something momentous happened to her in 1964 . . . .
. The erstwhile Sherry Lee, Jackie Dee and Jackie Shannon,
still a youngster just out of her teens, was invited to tour the
United States and Canada as a support act to the Beatles.
Now the Fab Four had great musical taste in those days, and would
have heard at least some of Jackie's amazing Liberty 45s. Certainly
"Needles And Pins" and "When You Walk In The Room"
would have impressed them, arranged by Jack Nitzsche with a sound
redolent of the happening LA productions of Phil Spector. Those
two songs impressed the Beatles' buddies from Liverpool, the Searchers
too, as the Top 40s around the world in 1963 and 1964 will attest.
Jackie had written hits for Brenda Lee and many others too, while
still in her teens, was drop-dead petite blonde gorgeous, and could
sing too - could she sing!
Performing on the Beatles tour may not have given anyone, other
than the moptops, any artistic satisfaction. You would sing two
or three songs, be completely drowned out by young females screaming
"We want the Beatles", leave the stage and collect your
money. The Righteous Brothers, another support act, reputedly walked
away from the tour long before it ended. But Jackie stayed the course,
knowing that exposure on this scale could make her career skyrocket.
Predictably, Liberty records rush released an album to coincide
with the tour. "Breakin' It Up On The Beatles Tour" (an
impossible title, what on earth does it mean?) has a hastily grabbed
soft focus photo of Jackie performing on the cover, and the 12 tracks
were a quickly assembled throwing together of some of Jackie's better
songs which had already been released. Enough said? Actually no.
This album is a treasure and for the last 40 or so years, copies
have been almost impossible to find on the second-hand market.
OK, "Needles And Pins" and "When You Walk In The
Room" you would expect to find on any DeShannon complilation
album and here they are, but listen to them. Don't the hairs just
stand up on the back of your neck? Listen to the way she lives the
words of "Needles And Pins". Listen to that full, satisfying
sound that Jack Nitzsche magics on "When You Walk
Then there are two songs that Jackie co-wrote with Randy Newman,
from the time when Randy and Jackie were both contracted to write
for Liberty's Metric Music - the dramatic "She Don't Understand
Him Like I Do" (also covered by Connie Stevens and Brian Hyland)
and the even more dramatic "Hold Your Head High". Randy
also contributes "Did He Call Today, Mama", a question
which Jackie asks huskily to an almost reggae beat. Jackie also
wrote a few with guru Nitzsche, and the lovely loping doo-wop "Should
I Cry" is a treat.
Jackie's previous writing partner was Sharon Sheeley, and they
contribute a couple of passionate and wonderful teen ballads, "You
Won't Forget Me" and "The Prince". The folky all-join-in
"He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" and two stormers,
"It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)" and the New Orleans
classic "Over You" round the album off, not forgetting
the only song which may well have been especially recorded for the
album, a pounding version of Buddy Holly's "Oh Boy". In
those days people didn't record covers of Buddy's songs and this
may have been a first for Jackie, decorated with some shrill "ooohs"
as a tribute to her touring co-stars. Great fun.
Anyway, this wonderful slab of early 60s LA music making, with
Jackie's sexy voice thrown in, would be sufficient in itself for
a re-release. But those nice guys at RPM have gone and added some
bonus tracks. Tempted they may have been to throw in a few more
hits, but no, they have gone and found eight more contemporary tracks,
and wonderful they are. "I'm Looking For Someone To Love"
and "Maybe Baby" are more from the Holly repertoire, with
Jackie greatly at ease singing the songs of her 50s hero. "Breakaway",
as covered years later by Tracey Ullman, is a gem, unheard until
it snook out on an EMI CD a few years ago, but why oh why was it
hidden? A top 10 hit if ever there was one. "Try To Forget
Him" is another wonderful curling, pulsing teen tune, tailor
made for Bobby Vee and with that unmistakeable early 60s Liberty
sound right through the grooves. And "Till You Say You'll Be
Mine", originally the A-side to "When You Walk In The
Room" is such a great Nitzsche/DeShannon collaboration that
you just want to listen to that voice, those guitars, that sound
again and again on repeat.
I haven't finished yet! The best news for us admirers of Miss DeShannon
are the three previously unheard tracks. And they are treats. "Mean
Old Frisco" allows me to put Jackie and Muddy Waters into the
same sentence for the first time, although I have previously written
a fair amount about Jackie. Here Jackie sings the blues like I've
never ever heard her before. Recorded in 1963 when still in her
teens. D'ya hear, Joss Stone? "Give Me A Break" is a shuffling
country tinged song with a slight Sam Cooke feel, not unsurprising,
since Jackie co-wrote it with Sam's associate, Zelda Samuels. I
wonder if they wrote it with Sam in mind? And finally
"Today Will Have No Night". Some of us have heard Jackie's
LA demo of this; but the finished job is quite different. Buzzing
with life and activity, girl backing singers, bouncing strings,
hand clapping a creation of wonder. And recorded in Nashville.
Nice insert with lots of pics of Jackie, wonderful remastering
of the original tapes, I do think you will enjoy this, I really
do. If you need more tempting, Jack Nitzsche arranged all but one
of the tracks. And great work Jim Pierson, who did all the unearthing
and compiling. More please.
(Peter Lerner, The Jackie DeShannon Appreciation Society, October 2005)
Breakin' it up on the Beatles tour! - Jackie DeShannon (RPM 302)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/82xe9
The Jackie DeShannon Appreciation Society: http://tinyurl.com/dqtm7
Ever wondered how many Carole King compositions were recorded by
the Monkees? (Find the answer below) . . . . . How do I
know this? I've just read The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story Of The
60s TV Pop Sensation. "This book is the most detailed and revealing
examination of the Monkees ever written" it declares on the
front flap. Whoever wrote those words ain't kidding! In diary format,
Andrew Sandoval's new tome chronicles the group's every moment from
their 1965 formation through to their demise in 1970. The TV shows,
concerts, movies, recording sessions - all are covered in detail.
There's a lot to be learned. For instance, did you know that Marcie
Jones & the Cookies (support act on the Monkees' 1968 tour of
Australia) were four young girls in purple sequinned micro skirts?
The following taster documents the sessions for Carole King &
Gerry Goffin's "Porpoise Song", just one of over 200 songs
recorded by the Monkees.
Monday, February 26th, 1968
Studio: California Recorders, Hollywood, CA
Producer: Gerry Goffin
One-inch 8-track; tracking
"Porpoise Song", master # WZB4-3513
Personnel: Ken Bloom (guitar); Bill Hinshaw (French horn); Jules
Jacob (oboe); Danny "Kootch" Korthmar (guitar); Doug Lubahn
(bass); Michael Ney (drums); John Raines (drums, percussion); Leon
Russell (keyboard); Ralph Shuckett (keyboard)
The session for this astounding track was directed with great majesty
(and mystery) by its co-writer Gerry Goffin. Russ Titelman, who
conducts the musicians for this piece, recalls later that California
Recorders "was a delvy little studio that Gerry knew about."
Although a few incomplete takes are heard on the session reel, probably
none of the real-time tracking recordings will survive. All the
energy is placed into building up a single master take through overdubbing.
The main tracking occurs this evening between 6:00 and 9:00pm and
then French horn and oboe parts are added from 10:00pm to 1:00am.
The final production features these particular performances heavily
processed through a filter, giving them an almost synthetic sound
Wednesday, February 28th, 1968
Studio: California Recorders, Hollywood, CA
Producer: Gerry Goffin
One-inch 8-track; overdubs
"Porpoise Song", master # WZB4-3513
Personnel: Gregory Bemko (cello); Max Bennett (upright bass); David
Filerman (cello); Bill Hinshaw (horn, woodwind); Clyde "Whitey"
Hoggan (upright bass); Jim Hughart (upright bass); Jules Jacob (horn,
woodwind); Jan Kelley (cello); Jacqueline Lustgarten (cello); Jerry
Scheff (upright bass)
During this further session for the centrepiece of the Monkees'
movie "Head", Jack Nitzsche's stunning orchestral arrangement
is committed to an already brimming master. His score features a
double quartet of cellists and bassists conducted by Russ Titelman.
The results are split - cellists on one track, bassists on the other.
Bill Hinshaw and Jules Jacob are on hand once again to augment their
parts from Monday's session. The final track features both French
and English horns that are very likely overdubbed today.
Thursday, February 29th, 1968
Studio: Wally Heider Recording, 6373 Selma, Hollywood, CA
Producer: Gerry Goffin
Engineer: Chris Hinshaw
One-inch 8-track; overdubs
"Porpoise Song", master # WZB4-3513
Personnel: Russ Titelman (cymbals); unknown (chimes)
Producer Gerry Goffin moves to Wally Heider's studio for some further
sweetening, but first bounces down the tracks from his previous
two "Porpoise Song" sessions. This is a rather daunting
task, given the amount of instrumentation previously taped, but
he succeeds in creating a new 8-track master tape. Even after taking
this step to create more space, Goffin must use whatever open tracks
he can find to add overdubs of cymbal crashes (courtesy of pal Russ
Titelman), chimes, or tubular bells, and some genuine aquatic sound
effects. In April Goffin will overdub three vocal tracks from Micky
Dolenz and some background vocals from Davy Jones. To add another
subtle texture, Davy's performances will be recorded with the tape
running at slower than normal speed and then played back at standard
pitch, giving a mild speeded-up effect.
Wednesday, April 3rd, 1968
Studio: RCA, Hollywood, CA
One-inch 8-track; overdubs
"Porpoise Song", master # WZB4-3513
Personnel: Micky Dolenz (vocal)
Micky Dolenz enjoys some time off from shooting "Untitled"
and adds his voice to "Porpoise Song".
Thursday, August 1st, 1968
Studio: RCA, Hollywood, CA
Engineer: Richie Schmitt
Quarter-inch mono and stereo; mixdown
"Porpoise Song", master # WZB4-3513
All of the Monkees' songs to be featured in "Head" are
mixed and/or assembled in both mono and stereo today. The stereo
mixes will be included on the soundtrack album - which will be compiled
next month - while the mono mixdowns will be featured in the film.
Today's mono mix of "Porpoise Song" will be used as a
single master when the song is released as a seven-inch in November.
The Monkees' CD "Head" (Rhino 71795) features the original
stereo LP mix of "Porpoise Song", lacking the song's coda.
The full version can be heard on the various artists compilation
"Nuggets: Hallucinations" (Rhino Handmade RHM2 7821),
which features the mono 45 mix, or the Monkees' "Greatest Hits",
which includes a period stereo mix. A stereo remix appears on their
"Listen To The Band" CD boxed set (Rhino 70566).
In answer to the question above, the Monkees recorded 17 Carole
King compositions, three of which she co-wrote with Toni Stern,
the remainder with Gerry Goffin.
(Mick Patrick, October 2005)
The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story Of The 60s TV Pop Sensation - Andrew Sandoval
(Backbeat Books, 2005)
More details here:
And here: http://tinyurl.com/8tznx
If you find the title a bit cryptic, this book's subtitle - A Musical
Appreciation of Female Surf, Hot-Rod and Related recordings 1961-1967
- should prove more illuminating . . . . . Unlike surfer
girls, females singing the praises of surfing was largely a '60s
phenomenon and this book attempts to chronicle that brief yet interesting
flowering. The concept of the girl singing about surfing and its
related offshoot of hot-rod music has never been fully explored,
If you've read any of Stephen J. McParland's other tomes, you
know exactly what to expect: exhaustively researched minutiae on
his particular area of expertise - California music, every cranny
and nook thereof. This book documents the recorded exploits of female
performers who have fallen under the creative wing of individuals
well-known for their own involvement in the surfing and hot-rod
music genre. Such product by record producers, music arrangers and
songwriters of the calibre of Brian Wilson, Gary Usher, Bruce Johnston,
Terry Melcher, Joe Saraceno, Phil Sloan & Steve Barri and Gary
Zekley is therefore discussed and documented, not all of which falls
into the category of surfing or hot-rod music, but is often couched
in similar musical terms. Likewise, girls singing about hot-rods,
drag racing and motorcycles have been included, as well as actresses
from the Beach Party genre of films who have recorded material.
For those interested in the girl group musical genre, this book
taps into an area (and covers individuals) largely ignored elsewhere
and so should provide an additional bountiful supply of information
The book comprises three main parts, the first of which includes
basic discographies of all known female releases in the book's chosen
mini-genre and songs about female surfers/hot-rodders, plus a listing
of female performances in Beach Party movies. In part two each release
in the main discography is documented, at lengths varying from a
brief paragraph to a full page (in many cases, expect to learn more
about the men behind each record than the women who performed them).
Part three, the book's main meat, contains detailed biographies
and discographies of the musical area's most important female protagonists,
namely Annette Funicello, Carol Connors, Shelley Fabares, Jill Gibson,
Susan Hart, the Honeys, Candy Johnson, Little Pattie, Donna Loren,
the Murmaids, Rachel & the Revolvers, Judy Russell and the Surf
Bunnies. Thankfully, the book is thoroughly indexed, with even a
separate photograph index.
Talking of photos, they are of excellent quality and quantity throughout,
frequently in colour, and sometimes rather rare. The Surf Bunnies,
for instance, are pictured not once, but four or more times. And
who ever saw a photo of the Tower label's Starlets before?! Full-page
(Mick Patrick, October 2005)
Bikinis, Black Denim And Bitchen
Sounds: A Musical Appreciation Of Female Surf, Hot-Rod And Related
Recordings 1961-1967 - Stephen J. McParland
A4 size (8.5" x 11.5"), 280 pages, including
53 pages of black and white photos, 7 pages of full colour, 7 pages
of graphics, full index, perfect bound with a full colour glossy
Price $US44.00, plus postage:
Air (1-2) weeks = 18 (USA)/22 (Europe)/15 (Japan)
Economy Air (2-4 weeks) = 15 (USA)/17 (Europe)/13 (Japan)
Sea (8-12 weeks) = 12 (USA and Europe)/nil (Japan)
All books posted in a padded bag. If you want a cardboard box, add
$5. Payment by PAYPAL preferred, or US cash in a registered letter.
Personal checks/cheques accepted, but add an additional $10 for
Contact: California Music, P.O. Box 106, North Strathfield, NSW
cmusic @ hotkey.net.au
more info: http://www.garyusher.com/cmusic
"The Best of Reparata & the Delrons" - I've been waiting years for
a CD like this to be released . . . . . As a lifelong friend
of Reparata, or Mary, as I know her, this CD brings back a flood
of memories of recording sessions, record hops, club appearances
and the special thrill of hearing my best friend's voice on the
radio. It also reminds me of the personal times we spent together
- going to parties, attending local dances, playing games, watching
TV and dancing to the latest hits.
This is a great collection of songs. It spans the
group's entire recording career and includes both their US and UK
hits. It also contains all the cult favourites as well as my personal
favourites. All the tracks were expertly produced by the Bill and
Steve Jerome and geniusly arranged by the late John Abbott. In my
unbiased opinion, they are all great, but for me some of the songs
have special memories attached to them.
"Whenever a Teenager Cries" - this is the song that started
it all. I remember hearing it for the first time while sitting in
Mary's living room along with her family and a few friends. I was
amazed. I was speechless. Her voice sounded so clear, so crisp and
so strong. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is really good".
Unlike the group's first effort, this one was special. This one
was different. After a few weeks, we heard that it was on the charts
in Pittsburgh, Pa. But, truthfully, even though I thought the record
was fantastic, I never expected to ever hear it on the radio, especially
in New York City. The Big Apple was a tough market. Then, one evening
I was in my room doing my homework and listening to the local radio
station WABC. I heard the deejay, Scott Muni, say, "Here's
a new song by three girls from Pittsburgh, Re-part-ta and the Delrons."
I immediately turned up the volume to maximum. He mispronounced
their name, he got their home city wrong, but it was being played!!
I couldn't have been more surprised, or more excited. The phone
began ringing almost immediately. All her friends started calling
one another: "Did you hear it?" "I can't believe
it!" "Yes!" "WABC!" We were all jumping
up and down. It was just like that scene from the movie That Thing
You Do. Pretty soon the record was climbing the charts, and it was
the talk of Brooklyn that three girls from St. Brendan's High School
had a hit record. It rose into the top ten on all three stations
(WABC, WINS, and WMCA). It had a long run on the charts. You couldn't
turn the radio on without hearing it. The group appeared at local
record hops, NY-based TV shows and on weekends they performed at
dance clubs in the area.
After much discussion about which song should be picked as the
follow-up single, "Tommy" was chosen. Some people thought
that the follow-up should have been "In My Diary", while
others suggested "That's How It All Began". Although nobody
asked me, I thought "Tommy" was a good choice. It was
a hit in New York City and it is now one of the two songs that the
group has become identified with here in the US.
When the World Artists label went bankrupt, the group was signed
to RCA. The first release was "I Can Tell". This is a
great track. Reparata sings most of the parts herself. I remember
she originally thought that the talking bit at the beginning was
a little corny, but it remained on the final cut. I love the humming
during the bridge and also the counterpointing during the last chorus.
Great performance. Great production. Just as the record was about
to be released, we heard that Lesley Gore had recorded the same
song, and was planning to release it as her next single. Mary's
version was recorded first and it was released first, and the New
York radio stations began playing it almost immediately. It became
a big deal among the two camps as described in Mick Patrick's notes,
but I never could understand why. Lesley had so many great hit records
to her credit and she was already a star - why should this one song
be so important? But, apparently it was. Anyway, I may be biased,
but when you compare the two records, I have to say that Mary's
version far outshines Lesley's. There's really no comparison. Coinciding
with the release of "I Can Tell", Nanette and Lorraine
were chosen as the new Delrons. This was good news to me because
both of them were good friends of mine. Lorraine lived on the same
block as Mary and she was part of our close circle of friends, and
Nanette was Mary's often present buddy from St. Brendan's High School.
The first recording session with the newly formed group was probably
the best in the group's history. It was also the first one that
I attended. It included "I'm Nobody's Baby Now", "I
Can Hear The Rain", "Always Waiting" and "My
Hero". I was so impressed. The RCA recording studio was big,
bright and comfortable. It was just the way I imagined a recording
session would be like - a full orchestra, violins, horns, pianos,
drums, etc etc. The song from this session that I remember most
vividly is, of course, the legendary "I'm Nobody's Baby Now".
I first heard the song a few weeks prior when Mary played us the
demo that she had recorded. The actual recording session was truly
extraordinary. The record sounds like a Spector recording because
they took great effort to make it sound that way. A lot of time
was spent perfecting the sound - a full orchestra, echo, bells,
castanets, chimes, bongos, crashing cymbals, etc. The background
vocals of the Delrons were augmented by studio singers, including
Melba Moore, and Reparata herself. The result is a masterpiece.
Reparata's powerful lead voice bleeds straight through that unbelievable
wall of sound. And, OMG, that talking part, how incredible is that?
I remember her telling me just before the session, "The whole
song will depend on the way I say the words, 'anybody else'".
I heard that Jeff Barry was blown away when he heard the finished
product. What they achieved is history. What they accomplished is
still being revered today, 40 years later. David A Young, in his
review, describes "Nobody's Baby" as "a sublime slice
of heaven that consistently, and literally, produces goose bumps
and shivers every time I play it. One can only humble oneself in
its shattering presence."
"I Can Hear The Rain" is another special track arranged
in a similar style with that big orchestra, that full sound, that
heavenly group of back-up singers, and Reparata's magnificent lead.
Vocally, I think Reparata sounds better on this song than on any
other. At the time, I remember mentioning to a few people that the
song sounded very familiar. I knew I had heard it before, but I
couldn't recall from when or where. I eventually discovered that
it was the B-side to Brian Hyland's hit "The Joker Went Wild".
Boy, I would love to hear that version again.
Another good track from the RCA period is "Mama's Little Girl".
The recording included on this CD, to my surprise, is the original
recorded version. The actual single that was released was electronically
speeded up to give it a more bouncy feel. That worked well for the
music and the background, but Reparata's voice sounds a bit higher
than you would expect. She kept saying she sounded like one of the
Chipmunks. If you compare the two versions, you can tell the difference.
It's nice to hear, on this CD, how the song was originally intended
"Boys And Girls" is a really strange track. It's a humorous
tongue in cheek B-side that Mary co-wrote with Bill Jerome. Do you
know of any other record that begins with the singers introducing
themselves? I don't. It almost sounds like a commercial. I used
to kid her about this song. "Fish, in the sea they're always
found"??? Great stuff. So profound! And then, "Goodbye,
from Reparata and the Delrons", followed by all those goodbyes
in various languages. Weird. I laugh every time I hear it. I love
After their stint at RCA, the group moved to Mala, a subsidiary
of Bell records. They recorded some interesting songs during this
tenure and had a real surprise hit in the UK with "Captain
Of Your Ship". With this recording, the group experienced a
level of fame and notoriety much greater than ever before. The success
of the record in the UK resulted in a 3 month European tour. Mary
speaks of this time as the high point of her career. They got to
appear twice on the TV show Top Of The Pops, and they also did Beat
Club in Germany. During this time they were invited to celebrity
parties, took part in radio and TV interviews, and had their every
move chronicled by the New Musical Express, England's top pop music
One very humorous incident occurred when the paper asked Reparata
to rate or comment on some of the records that were popular at the
time. This was a regular feature in the paper. Each week a different
artist was picked to do the reviews. Mary gave glowing and very
amusing comments to most of the selected songs. The exception was
the Paper Dolls' recording of "Something Here In My Heart".
Mary innocently made the comment that the vocals were great, but
the song was "Nothing to write home about." To her shock,
the paper made her comment their front-page headline: "Reparata
says Paper Dolls song nothing to write home about!!" The Paper
Dolls responded the following week with the comment, "The foghorn
at the beginning of 'Captain Of Your Ship' describes what we think
of the Reparata record." It made good press for a few weeks
until the paper arranged a reconciliation complete with pictures.
All was forgiven. Surprisingly, a short time later, the Paper Dolls
recorded their version of 'Captain Of Your Ship' for their album.
That's another track I'd love to hear.
The group had continued success on the UK club scene with "Panic"
and "It's Waiting There For You". I think "It's Waiting
There For You" is a great song and a great performance by the
group. It's got that Petula Clark sound and feel, but "Panic"
seems to be the overwhelming favourite with the e-bay crowd. It
always gets high bids whenever it's up for sale. In the mid-'70s,
"Shoes" was released both in the US and the UK. This is
yet another different sound and style. It almost has a Middle Eastern
feel. It took me a while to get used to this track. It didn't sound
anything like Reparata's other records, but the song grows on you
the more you hear it. The record was starting to climb the charts,
then, just weeks after its release, it was pulled from distribution
when Lorraine threatened legal action over use of the name Reparata.
Attending Reparata's recording sessions was a special thrill for
me. Just being able to experience how a record was created was an
enlightening experience. I attended most of their sessions during
the RCA, Mala, and Kapp years. It was both rewarding and fascinating.
The sessions often lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Through
the years, I kept thinking that a time will come when I will be
asked to participate in some way. I realised that it wouldn't have
anything to do with singing because I sound like a frog. But, I
certainly was capable of hand clapping, finger snapping, tambourine
shaking, or any task that didn't require real talent. And, after
all, I was a friend of Reparata. That surely should have meant something,
right? Session after session, I waited for my opportunity. Then,
one fateful night about 2am during one of their recording sessions
with Mala, I noticed from the observation booth that a serious discussion
was taking place on the studio floor. I saw John Abbott, Steve and
Bill Jerome, and the three girls all in a huddle discussing some
critical issue. I assumed it had to do with the creative process
of the song they were recording at the time. A moment came when
everybody looked up towards me in the observation booth and Steve
motioned for me to come down to the studio floor. I practically
ran down that long staircase. I thought, "This is my big chance.
They finally need me for something." I wondered what it could
be. I was a little out of breath when I reached the group, but I
was ready and willing to hear how I would be needed. Steve looked
me straight in the eye and said, "Do you mind going for coffee?"
So, now when people ask me if I participated in the sessions, I
always reply, "Of course I did. I played a small but very important
Although their recording career ended in the '70s, Reparata and
the Delrons continued to do shows in and around the New York area
well into the '90s. They didn't have a big catalogue of hits to
their credit, but their act was top class and very popular with
the oldies scene. They got to perform at all the top venues including
Madison Square Garden and Westbury Music Fair. They developed a
good reputation with the promoters, the club owners and especially
with their fellow artists. Early in her career Mary met Lou Christie
when they were both on tour with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.
They developed a special friendship that lasts to the present day.
He frequently gave her advice and encouragement and came to many
of her performances. Attending their shows was a special joy for
me. I remember one particular show at The Bitter End club in Manhattan.
The girls were particularly good that night - everything was working
well. The word was passed around that Ronnie Spector was in the
audience. After the show, Mary hesitantly approached Ronnie and
introduced herself. Ronnie responded by saying in a loud voice,
"You were f***ing great!!!" Mary couldn't have wished
for a better reaction.
The Jerome brothers never gave up on Reparata. Long after the group's
initial success had dimmed, Steve and Bill kept recording and releasing
quality Reparata product. In a business where fame is short-lived
and managers and producers quickly abandon their artists, the Jeromes
stuck by her. She was lucky, back in 1964, to have met up with a
legitimate and gifted team that were not out to exploit her talent
and then disappear. It is through their perseverance and loyalty
that today we are able to enjoy this fantastic CD.
(Ray Otto, October 2005)
The Best of Reparata & the Delrons (Ace CDCHD 1066)
More info: http://www.acerecords.co.uk/content.php?page_id=59&release=4668
Thinking about the musical legacy of Phil Spector while listening to "Phil's Spectre II: Another Wall Of Soundalikes" . . . . .
I find two facts particularly amazing to ponder. First, enough buyers share a passion for faux-Spector recordings that
Ace has released its second compendium of examples to satisfy our hunger (this is especially remarkable because they're
all-label anthologies, representing licensing nightmares). In other words, the appeal of the Wall of Sound concept, in
and of itself, is as great and durable for many as that of its creator's hits. Second, the well of recordings done in
that style is so deep that, even after collecting them for forty years, I continue to discover ones new to me (or, in
some cases, to hear with new ears things with which I was familiar but hadn't considered from a "Phil's Spectre"
Even among the most intimately and longtime known and loved selections, though, the phrase
"to hear with new ears" still applies. Granted, each listener will have a different list of
greater and lesser favourites, but regardless of how one feels about any given record as a
musical statement, there's no getting around the fact that nothing here has ever sounded
better, thanks to the meticulous and obviously fan-sensitive mastering.
Especially noteworthy is the care with which Clydie King's transcendently
elegant single "The Thrill Is Gone" has been brought to
digital life for the first time - in shimmering stereo, yet. This
sublime slice of heaven is one of two songs on the disc that consistently,
and literally, produce goose bumps and shivers every time I play
them. The other is Reparata & the Delrons' legendary "I'm
Nobody's Baby Now", also making its CD debut here. There are
so few times that such an extraordinary song, such an incandescent
interpretation, and such a cataclysmic production have co-existed
on the same slab of vinyl that one can only humble oneself in its
shattering presence. One other favourite gets honorary mention,
particularly since I hadn't heard it before: Timmy & the Persianetts'
"Timmy Boy". It's very convincingly in the mold of Bob
B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans' "Zip-A-Dee Do-Dah", but with
a searingly soulful lead (think Garnet Mimms). Bob Finiz and Lee
Lovett, respectively, should be very proud of their Phil Spector
and Jack Nitzsche impersonations.
While the Spector sound is inarguably a strong influence on every
track here, in truth not every single one passes my "Let me
see that label!" test. For example, the Mary Wells and Four
Tops tracks still sound like Motown, not Philles, to me, despite
their obvious nods to the latter label's patented sound. And while
I hadn't noticed before how well Bill Medley captured the Wall of
Sound behind the Righteous Brothers' "Night Owl", the
vocals (as on the 1964 release) are mixed so loud that the backing
track is lost in a way it wouldn't have been on a Spector record.
Perhaps that balance could've been re-engineered in the interest
of further Spectorizing the song (admittedly at the expense of Medley's
original vision), but the CD as a whole sounds so damn good that
it's not a nagging concern.
The Righteous Brothers appear as themselves in the above-mentioned
tune, but their spectre merges with Spector's in plenty of the offerings
here. Dobie Gray, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Kane & Abel,
the Dreamlovers, Bobby Coleman, the Knickerbockers and Ruby &
the Romantics all turn in records worthy of mention in the same
breath as the Medley/Hatfield/Spector collaborations. Ruby fans
take note: The version of "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore"
included here is the original reverb-drenched 2:38 UK mono single
version, not the 3:22 stereo one found on their superb RPM anthology
"Our Day Will Come" (both versions are radically different
edits to the US 45).
Phil Spector didn't invent girl groups, of course, but he elevated
and, arguably, perfected the genre, which, as is to be expected,
is amply represented on the disc as well. Standout selections besides
those already cited include those by the Bonnets (a dream come true
to have "Ya Gotta Take a Chance" transferred from master
tapes!), the Goodies, Noreen Corcoran, Connie Stevens and Suzy Wallis.
As great (and otherwise Spectoresque) a record as the Fantastic
Vantastics' "Gee What a Boy" is, I can't imagine Phil
ever using that quirky sound effect, whatever it is, on the downbeats.
Despite the fact that Phil himself dabbled in the folk-rock field
only once (with MFQ), his influence on the style is inestimable,
as demonstrated on this collection by entries from the Satisfactions
and Eight Feet. Somewhat more difficult to categorize, but of the
same high quality as their uptempo girl group-style recordings,
is the Victorians' "Climb Every Mountain", which reminds
me more of the Crystals' equally unique "He Hit Me" than
If, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then
the disc's final track, Joe South's "Don't You Be Ashamed",
found the singer, producer and "writer" of the track obviously
(too obviously) feeling very complimentary toward Spector, Greenwich
and Barry. Starting off with a "Chain Of Fools" lick,
it quickly transforms into a virtual clone of "River Deep -
Mountain High" that, amazingly, evaded litigation by that song's
The twenty-page booklet offers a wealth of rare photos (most priceless
of which, especially in its context, is the cover shot) and label
scans of all but one of the original 45s. You'll also find stories
about each song, in greater detail than you're likely to find elsewhere
and, more often than not, in the first person from someone involved.
According to the saying, nothing succeeds like success, but for
Phil Spector, nothing succeeded like excess. The people who made
the records anthologized on this disc (and its predecessor) made
some valiantly excessive attempts to duplicate his success. While
all of these platters failed to see significant chart action in
their time, if any, they exemplify, and in some cases epitomize,
a body of work that continues to impress those enthralled by the
many facets the Wall of Sound. That there are enough of us out there
to make Ace's releasing this material worth their while is a testament
both to Spector's genius and to all the artists represented on these
collections with the good taste and foresight to emulate it. Tomorrow's
Sound Today indeed!
(David A. Young, August 2005)
Phil's Spectre II: Another Wall Of Soundalikes (Ace CDCHD 1059)
More info: http://www.acerecords.co.uk/content.php?page_id=59&release=4606
The brainchild of St. Etienne's Bob Stanley - a man who knows great
pop music when he hears it - "Measure For Measure" tells the story
of John Carter, one of the top pop songwriters Britain has ever
produced . . . . . Working mainly with Ken Lewis and Geoff
Stephens, but also others, Carter wrote all bar two of the cuts
here. He produced and sang lead on most of them too. With 55 tracks
spread over two discs, each with a playing time of over 79 minutes,
this set represents fantastic value for money. Heck, I snagged mine
for under a tenner. You can't even buy 40 fags for that. Well, not
my brand. If you don't know John Carter's story, Stanley tells it
in some detail in the booklet, complete with quotes from the man
himself - required reading for all budding pop historians. The package
design is way cool too. Sequenced chronologically, "Measure
For Measure" follows Carter's career from his first recordings
to a series of advertising jingles cut in the late '70s.
Fresh out of school, John Shakespeare and his songwriting partner
Ken Hawker arrived in London in 1960, intent on finding jobs in
the music biz. The two Brummies were offered a deal by manager Terry
Kennedy on their first day in town. Re-christened Carter and Lewis,
respectively, they released their first record in 1961. Their backing
band, the Southerners, contained at times drummer Viv Prince and
guitarist Jimmy Page, no less. "Sweet And Tender Romance",
Carter-Lewis & the Southerners' best 45, is a prime piece of
Brit pop. By 1964 they had grown out of their Buddy Holly/Everly
Brothers aspirations and teamed up with Perry Ford to form the Ivy
League - hear five of that trio's best sides here, including "My
World Fell Down", a true period masterpiece. In 1967 came the
Flowerpot Men . . . I remember sporting a cowbell on my family's
holiday to Skegness that year (sigh) . . . to hear the full 6-minute
version of their "Let's Go To San Francisco" is to experience
pop music as art. New to me were many of the later tracks, all of
which live up to Carter's '60s output. Awash with exotic harmonies,
"Tahiti Farewell" by Haystack, for instance, comes close
to beating the Association at their own game, while Stormy Petrel's
"Hello Hello Hello" is a magnificent piece of orchestrated
pop. More familiar is "Beach Baby" by First Class from
1974 - one of the best pop records ever to come out of London's
West End, surely. The three other First Class tracks contained here
are almost as good. Also included are a number of previously unissued
John Carter demos. These include familiar songs like "Sunshine
Girl", "My Sentimental Friend", "Knock Knock
Who's There" and "Winchester Cathedral", plus lesser-known
wonders like "I Couldn't Spend Another Day Without You"
and "Playing With Fire". Harmony Pop, Sunshine Pop, Bubblegum,
call it what you like - these CDs contain some of best British pop
records ever made.
Currently dormant, it seems, the Westside label issued some great
CDs in its time, "As You Like It" being one of the logo's more esoteric
releases . . . . . Conceived and produced by Tony Rounce
and Roger Dopson, and comprising 26 previously unreleased demos
recorded by John Carter between 1963 and 1967 - the S'pop era, if
you will - this set is aimed at those with more than just a passing
interest. The original demos of some of Carter's most famous songs
are here, like "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" (a UK hit
for Goldie & the Gingerbreads and a US #1 for Herman's Hermits)
and "Is It True" (Brenda Lee). Even better, though, are
the Brian Wilson-esque "Am I Losing You" (cut later by
the Flowerpot Men and Shirley Abicair, etc), "I Can't Let You
Go" (written for, but never recorded by, Herman's Hermits -
the ingrates!) and "She Won't Show Up Tonight" (a great
uptown number, again unused) - I could go on. Like RPM's release,
the notes are splendiferous, and feature song-by-song commentary
from John Carter. Released back in 1998, copies of "As You
Like It" still show up at Amazon and such places, but its shelf
life must surely be fast expiring. Get smart, get Carter, I say.
In the USA they had the 4 Seasons, the Beach Boys, the Happenings
and the Grass Roots, etc. Here in Britain we had the Ivy League.
Were they as good as their American counterparts? Well, yes . .
. . . Put together again by the Rounce/Dopson team, this
still-available 1997 compilation anthologises all the known recordings
of the Ivy League. Disc 1 (great listening from start to finish)
presents their A and B-sides, chronologically, whilst Disc 2 (for
completists only really) features all the non-single tracks from
both their issued and unissued albums, plus the four tracks from
their Christmas EP. What more do you want? John Carter, Ken Lewis
and Perry Ford got together in 1964, primarily to work as session
singers (that's them on "I Can't Explain" by the Who,
for example). Inevitably, they ended up making records of their
own. Their singles - "What More Do You Want", "Funny
How Love Can Be", "That's Why I'm Crying", "Tossing
And Turning", "Our Love Is Slipping Away", "Running
'Round In Circles", "Willow Tree", "My World
Fell Down", "Four And Twenty Hours", "Suddenly
Things", "Thank You For Loving Me" - were uniformly
brilliant. If you don't have them already, this is the best place
to find them. Yet another excellent booklet, too.
Did Carter-Lewis ever win an Ivor Novello award? If not, why not?
(Mick Patrick, August 2005)
John Carter - Measure For Measure: The John Carter Anthology, 1961-1977 (RPM D268)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/dot88
John Carter - As You Like It: The Denmark Street Demos, 1963-1967 (Westside WESM 523)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/83ste
The Ivy League - Major League: The Collectors' Ivy League (Sequel NEDCD 289)
More info: http://tinyurl.com/aut2b
| || |
Compiled by "M & M", who masterminded the original series, this handsome conflation of
Sequel Records' 1990s "Here Come The Girls" CDs is a literal Best-Of Brit-Girl Pop,
circa 1966 . . . . .
Our emcee for this 50-track set is the enthusiastic, savvy Shiela Burgel (of Cha Cha Charming fame). She offers a giddy, info-packed tour of a musical genre that's often hard to pin down.
What, exactly, is Brit-Girl Pop? Is it the female equivalent of
British Beat? Not quite. Is it a UK regurgitation of the Crystals,
Shirelles, Shangri-Las, et al? Again, not really. Male British groups
such as Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, the Merseybeats, Searchers,
et al, tried their hardest to sound American. Ironically, most of
the British versions of American girl-group tunes came from these
unquestionably hetero male outfits. If anything, the female side
of '60s UK pop is in-your-face with its sheer Britishness. Some
of the spirit of the pre-Beat years stayed with these female discs.
A light, energetic, breezy sound, carefully arranged and often heavily
orchestrated, distance these discs from the trendier hard edge of
the Beat boys. Though American composers are frequently mined for
material - Sloan-Barri, Bacharach-David, Smokey Robinson - the US
sound seldom intrudes on these Brit-girl tunes. Nods to Motown,
Brian Wilson and Phil Spector pepper certain songs - sometimes all
three at once! Tammy St. John's version of "Nobody Knows What's
Goin' On (In My Mind But Me)", for example, almost upstages
the Chiffons' bizarre original.
Covering the years 1963 to 1972, with most tracks of '65-'68 vintage,
"It's So Fine" is a whirlwind tour of would-be Dustys
in soulful voice (Jackie Trent, Tammy St. John), harmony groups
(Pickettywitch, the Breakaways) and eccentric entities such as Helen
Shapiro and Anita Harris. No two performers sound exactly alike
here. Sheila Burgel's liner notes connect every song with wit and
style. She offers a brief account of her own growing fascination
with Brit-girl pop, and then delights with facts and opinions on
the 42 different performers of this set.
The Tony Hatch Sound permeates "It's So Fine". This is,
indeed, so fine. If any one person could be called the architect
of the Brit-Girl sound, it's Hatch. His work with Petula Clark made
the Brit-Girl sound globally popular. Together with Jackie Trent,
Hatch co-wrote some of the most memorable songs of the 1960s. We
are happily served two prime, rarely-heard Petula tracks, "The
Life And Soul Of The Party" and our opener, "Gotta Tell
The World". Other Hatch-lings include the brain chemistry-altering
"You Can Be Wrong About Boys" by Petula stand-in Mally
Page, the Breakaways' "Live For Life" (with enough breathiness
to tame a forest fire!) and great tracks by Jackie Trent, Yvonne
Prenosilova, Dilys Watling and the Sweetcorn. The Hatch influence
is deeply felt on other tracks. Most striking is Tina Tott's vibrant
"Take Away The Emptiness Too".
Here's a quick rundown of some other faves. Our title track, a
sublime slice of folk-rock by John Carter and Ken Lewis, is heavenly
as sung by their secretary, Dee King. Val McKenna's stunning "Leave
My Baby Alone" is pure pop gold in the hands of the uni-named
Britt. McKenna's own version of her moody "Don't Hesitate"
is equally striking. We're also privy to her double-tracked, toe-tappin'
version of Patty & the Emblems' "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl".
I'd love to see an entire disc of Val McKenna's songs and performances.
Best Prepubescent Performer award goes to 12 year-old Maxine Darren
for her emotional "Don't You Know", penned by Freddie
& the Dreamers' guitarist Derek Quinn. Nita Rossi's mega-dramatic
"Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You)", a Gordon Mills classic,
makes a most welcome reappearance here. Here's British girl pop
at its best! Helen Shapiro's husky pipes are heard on two choice
late '60s tracks, both penned by Anthony King - "Silly Boy"
and "Take Me For Awhile". Anita Harris' voice rivals Shapiro's
for its, er, unusual qualities. Her breathy, understated version
of Burt Bacharach's "London Life" simply drips of zeitgeist
and period detail. Harris sounds like she could use an asthma inhaler
- and quick!
Two-thirds of the 50 tracks here were never on the "Here Come
The Girls" series. With its fab graphics and its keen encyclopedia
of a sound, "It's So Fine: Pye Girls Are Go!" is my summer
soundtrack for this year. May it warm your day, wherever you are!
(Frank M. Young, July 2005)
Various Artists - It's So Fine: Pye Girls Are Go! - Castle Music CMDDD1159
Full track list: http://tinyurl.com/ckmv7
"Arrangers are the unsung heroes of rock 'n' roll." Anyone
who's spent more than a few minutes at Martin Roberts's Jack Nitzsche
at Spectropop pages has had the experience of being overwhelmed
by the sheer volume and variety of Nitzsche's output . . . . . Anyone
who regularly follows the Record of the Week feature on those pages
is equally impressed with the consistent high quality of Nitzsche's
efforts. Given all that, to attempt an "oeuvre-defining compendium"
(on a single disc, yet), as its booklet's annotator, Mick Patrick,
says, is a daring act. The fact that the collection, compiled from
start to finish using master tapes, succeeds so brilliantly at its
ambitious purpose is cause for rejoicing and dancing in the streets.
From the very beginning, Jack Nitzsche had a gift for couching
each project in a uniquely appropriate and sophisticated way. He
was lucky enough to work with the best singers, songwriters, and
musicians right off, and little of what he's left behind (and none
of what's included here) could be called mediocre. Many of his arrangements
and/or productions might be described as stately, and all are in
service to the emotional impact of the songs and the performances.
Bookending the disc are two Nitzsche instrumentals, the equally
immortal but decidedly differently flavored "The Lonely Surfer"
from 1963 and the closing theme to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest" from 1976. In between, presented in an approximately
chronological order, shuffled just enough to enhance continuity,
are two dozen more examples of the man's genius. Even a casual listen
commands respect, and the more often, and the more attentively,
one hears these songs, especially en masse, the more one will feel
reverence for Nitzsche's body of work.
A few hits are included for good measure (and quite a few more
weren't available for licensing), but the emphasis is on the lesser-known
masterpieces that inexplicably eluded the charts. The second track,
"Don't Make My Baby Blue" by Frankie Laine, was a minor
hit that deserved much better. Laine channels producer Terry Melcher's
vocal style so effectively that one can consider it a lost Terry
Day single, a worthy companion piece to the two Day/Nitzsche collaborations
released on the same label. Similarly, "Seein' Is Believin'"
by Eddie Hodges and Round Robin's "Kick That Little Foot Sally
Ann" double as lost Darlene Love records; the Blossoms' vocals,
and Darlene's in particular, contribute immeasurably to the success
of the tracks.
As someone who generally prefers female vocalists, I find it interesting
that the selections that impress me most here are by guys; it's
a testament to Nitzsche's sensitivity to context that several of
them give what are, in my opinion anyway, the performances of their
lives on these tracks. Case in point: "Not For Me" by
Bobby Darin. His heartfelt, and heartbreaking, delivery on this
longtime favorite, reminiscent of the best Gene Pitney or Roy Orbison
tunes, still chokes me up after all these years when I try to sing
For me, the centerpiece of the album is Lou Christie's even-more-theatrical-than-usual
"Wild Life's in Season". Recorded a few months after "River
Deep - Mountain High", it sports several parallels with that
classic (which wasn't available for this compilation). Christie
sings his furry ass off like never before or since, lending gale
force to an already strong song, which, like "River Deep",
comprises several themes. The frenetic and relentless sonic effect
of two such over-the-top talents as Christie and Nitzsche combining
forces is almost more than one can bear. One has to marvel that
all that drama ever got squeezed onto one little seven-inch piece
Jack Nitzsche easily adapted to pop's evolution in the '60s, overseeing
consummate examples of its transitions through folk-rock (Bob Lind,
Tim Buckley) and sunshine pop (Don & the Goodtimes) and the
radio-friendly sounds of such latter-day hitmakers as Gary Puckett
(Garry Bonner, P. J. Proby). (I've always suspected Leo Sayer of
lifting the line from Proby's "You Make Me Feel Like Someone"
for his "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing".)
As we move out of the '60s and into the '70s, tracks from artists
like Marianne Faithfull, the James Gang and Buffy Sainte-Marie illustrate
Nitzsche's continuing knack for adjusting to changing times while
continuing to be true to his vision and leaving his unique and instantly
recognizable stamp on his work.
Special mention must be made of the booklet accompanying this masterful
set, which is in itself a work of both depth and beauty. A luxurious
28 pages long, its margins sport tributes to Nitzsche from his peers,
an essay by his son, and reproductions of pages from his telephone
and appointment books. The detailed liner notes are interspersed
with appropriate Nitzsche quotes (from a previously unpublished
interview), and a generous helping of photos from the Nitzsche family
archives adds more than enough graphic interest. The care that went
into the content and the presentation of the book rivals that lavished
on the most expensive coffee-table tome.
In addition to the artists named above, you'll also find cuts by
such disparate notables as Doris Day, Little Stevie Wonder, the
Paris Sisters, Lesley Gore and Graham Parker & the Rumour, among
others, demonstrating the range of talent with whom Nitzsche worked.
This disc is a stunning homage to the man and his musical legacy.
I understand that if it does well, Ace will compile a second volume.
I sure hope so!
(David A. Young, April 2005)
The Jack Nitzsche Story: Hearing
Is Believing 1962-1979 - ACE CDCHD 1030
Complete track listing: http://www.acerecords.co.uk/gotrt/2005/apr05/CDCHD1030.html
Jack Nitzsche at Spectropop: http://www.spectropop.com/JackNitzsche/index.htm
If Lou Christie wrote a bad song, you wouldn't know from "Original Sinner" and "Egyptian Shumba", RPM Records' digital tributes to the high-voiced Italian-American dynamo, the latter also including the complete works of his early back-up trio, the Tammys . . . The selection of hits ("Lightnin' Strikes", "The Gypsy Cried") and misses ("If My Car Could Only Talk", everything the Tammys ever recorded) all lead to the same conclusion; Lou Christie was a twenty-four carat genius, a pop writer and artist whose refusal to play by the rules (pop, gender, relationships - he broke 'em all) always resulted in something extraordinary.
Part of Lou Christie's appeal was his audacious approach to songwriting,
audible in the Flamenco-tinged "Song Of Lita" and the
Tammys' frenzied "Egyptian Shumba". The other half lied
in his femininity. Yeah, he might've looked all cool in a trench
coat, cigarette dangling from his bee-stung lips James Dean style,
but we know Lou Christie was really a teenage girl in male drag.
His hyperfeminized falsetto is the dead giveaway, as was his ability
to tap into the essence of girlhood - heartache, hairspray, innocence,
eyeliner - and translate it into the kind of melodic euphoria that
makes singing along mandatory. Other mile high-voiced club members
- the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli, Del Shannon - boasted a similar
sound, but no one could fill a girl's high heels like Lou Christie.
Perhaps it was his permanent writing partner, Twlya Herbert, who
kept Lou in regular contact with his inner female. She was 15 years
his senior, a psychic gypsy woman with plans to become a concert
pianist before the two met and sold their souls to rock'n'roll.
"Egyptian Shumba" starts off with Twyla and Lou's first
collaboration, "The Gypsy Cried", a much-lauded "ballad
with a beat" that ranked at #24 on the Cash Box charts in 1962.
When the Tammys - Linda Jones, Cathie Owens and Gretchen Owens -
saw his TV performance of "The Gypsy Cried", they put
in a call to Lou who once promised to help them out if he ever made
it big. The trio became Lou's official backup girl group and they
released three of their own records, including girl group favorite
"Egyptian Shumba", which liner notes scribe Harry Young
likens to "a mesmerizing monument of mythic proportions".
The compilation is worth it for this track alone, though girl group
die-hards will be pleased to find the inclusion of a never-released
Veep single as well as an alternate version of the title track.
The Tammys chirped away until the summer of '65 when Cathie Owens
tied the knot, prompting the group to disband.
No worries though. The Angels' Peggy Santiglia, Laurie Records'
girl pop artist Bernadette Carroll and former Delicates member Denise
Ferri came to the rescue with equally articulate shrieks. They made
their debut on Lou Christie's first cut for MGM Records and his
biggest hit to date - "Lightnin' Strikes", the only possible
choice for an opener on "Original Sinner". Lightning strikes
twice on "Trapeze", with its dizzying assault of wailing
girls and boys ("TRAPEZE! Sha-bye bye baby you'll never fly
with me!") and excess of energy. Dig that funky bass line!
If this is what they call a B-side, it's time we rethink the definition.
Pair a pop revolutionist with production master Jack Nitzsche and
out pours the melodic chaos of "Wild Life's In Season"
and "If My Car Could Only Talk". Lou's penchant for stretching
syllables brings the dullest of words to life ("I found pictures
from the Penny Arcade in my ash-to-tra-ay-yeah-yay-hey!").
On the flipside of "If My Car Could Only Talk" lies "Song
Of Lita", so advanced and other-wordly that it warrants two
alternate versions on "Original Sinner".
Lou Christie historian Harry Young compiled both CDs and wrote
two sets of enthusiastic and informed liner notes. A talent of Lou
Christie's stature deserves only the best, and boy did he get what
(Sheila Burgel - Cha Cha Charming,
Original Sinner: The Very Best Of The MGM Recordings - RPM 284
Egyptian Shumba: The Singles and Rare Recordings, 1962-1964 - RPM 330
Lou Christie: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/9229/lounews.htm
Cha Cha Charming: http://www.chachacharming.com
Top 40 radio from 1954 to 1964 covered many different genres
of music; you'd find middle-road, pop, rock'n'roll, and even
some R & B on many mainstream stations . . . Thus,
it makes sense that this wide-ranging CD includes tracks as
diverse as Debbie Reynolds' "Tammy", the Teddy Bears'
"Oh Why", Annie Laurie's "It Hurts To Be In
Love", Doris Day's "Secret Love", Brenda Lee's
"Dum Dum" and Mary Ann Fisher's "I Can't Take
It". Let me first qualify my comments by saying that
I don't have, nor have seen the track lists to, the first
three volumes of this series. But this CD stands by itself
on very strong legs, firmly rooted in many categories.
Many of the more "middle road" songs herein were huge hits
when released; Doris Day's "Secret Love", Debbie Reynolds'
"Tammy" and Patience & Prudence's "Gonna Get
Along Without Ya Now" exemplify the sweeter side of those,
and have an adult approach (despite Patience & Prudence's young
years, they would fall into the "adorable moppet" category
for adult listeners). The McGuire Sisters, hugely popular in their
time (or was it the payola?), take the blues out of the Moonglows'
rhythm and blues hit "Sincerely", but at least they leave
in the rhythm as they belt what the former group crooned. And Rosemary
Clooney, who usually appealed to the pre-rock generation, transcended
categories with "This Old House"; its jauntiness belied
the dark undertone of the lyrics, giving this ragtimey song unexpected
emotional depth. Jeanne Black began her string of country hits with
"He'll Have To Stay", a note-for-note refutation of Jim
Reeves' "He'll Have To Go". Betty Johnson had good luck
updating standards with a semi-rock feeling; "Little White
Lies" kept the adult audience and appealed to teens. She was
the biggest hitmaker on Bally Records, a company best known for
its pinball machines in that era. (If you like this track, find
her later hit version of Johnny Mercer's composition "Dream"
on Atlantic, which is a little less cute and more honest, multi-tracked
a la Patti Page and driven by a strong slow-rock beat.)
The rock and R & B selections on this CD provide most of the
delights for my ears. Was Brenda Lee really only 16 when she turned
"Dum Dum" into such a sexual come-on? Bonnie Lou's "Daddy-O",
presented without the overdubs added later to combat the Fontaine
Sisters' cover on Dot, also shows a strong voice whose owner deserved
bigger success. The dated "hep-cat lingo" adds to its
charm. LaVern Baker almost shows up twice; her big hit, "Tweedle
Dee", is here in its hit cover version by Georgia Gibbs, who
does a very professional but (to my ears) soul-less reading. However,
Baker's own "I Cried A Tear", while not one of my favorite
compositions, nonetheless is elevated by her vocals, as naturally
soulful as breathing. The same is true for Annie Laurie's "It
Hurts To Be In Love", a song I hadn't heard before, which is
my favorite discovery on this CD - a swingin' blues with doo-wop
overtones and an easy roll to the rhythm that's instantly captivating.
And boy, could she sing! So could Theola Kilgore; enjoy her powerful
church-influenced "The Love Of My Man", then find a copy
of Joe Tex's "Say Thank You" (not on this CD); they sound
like sibling songs separated at birth. Special mention goes to Mary
Ann Fisher's "I Can't Take It"; it's hard to believe the
sweet-looking lady who graces the CD's cover has such amazing grit
in her voice; learning that she's a "graduate" of the
"Ray Charles School of Music" goes a long way to explaining
it. Let me also insert a word of praise for Annette. Question her
image if you will, but "listen into" "Tall Paul".
The track driving this song (which tortured me in my youth, being
both tall and Paul) actually manages to do some serious rockin'
beneath the cloying cuteness, and Annette does her best to help
it along. (But really, folks, when would a 50s girl ever say "he's
my all" about her boyfriend?!?)
There's good prime-era girl group work here, too. The exquisite
"Oh, Why" by the Teddy Bears, from Phil Spector's classical/romantic
songwriting period, is delightful in stereo; Carol Connors' expressive
vocal shines, and the economical arrangement seems much larger and
lusher than the sum of its parts. The under-rated "To A Soldier
Boy" by the Tassels is touchingly naïve and frought with
honest yearning. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Jamie
Horton (actually child star Gayla Peevey)'s "My Little Marine",
another soldier song, which feels crassly commercial and calculating.
Also, 14-year-old Priscilla Wright's version of "Man In A Raincoat"
(a "film noir" disc in theme and execution) comes off
as amateurish and overwrought; I would have much preferred Marion
Marlowe's subtler version, which was also a hit. But the high points
outweigh the lows: Marcy Joe's Pittsburgh hit, "Ronnie",
is sweet and touching, and predicts her fine duets with Eddie Rambeau.
It's also nice to have major hitmakers the Essex ("A Walkin'
Miracle"), the Cookies ("Don't Say Nothin' Bad"),
Sue Thompson ("Sad Movies") and Little Eva ("Keep
Your Hands Off My Baby") represented, along with the lesser-known
Tracey Dey (the turgid "Teenage Cleopatra") and the Toy
Dolls ("Little Tin Soldier"). A special surprise is jazz
singer Nancy Wilson's unique pop/soul foray, "How Glad I Am",
as fresh-sounding now as it was when new.
Is this a perfect album? No. But is it worth owning? I'd vote yes,
especially since the music - some of it as rare as truth in politics
- is enhanced by thorough and frequently fascinating liner notes
by Malcolm Baumgart and Mick Patrick. Compliments, too, to their
selection of photos, record labels and ad scans. A note: in the
CD's effort to include as much stereo as possible, a few of the
stereo tracks suffer from the early "hard left-right"
mixes which sound dated and oddly hollow, especially when played
at lower volumes. But overall, the sound clarity and fidelity throughout
are excellent, especially considering that these selections are
from 40 to over 50 years old. All in all, this is another worthy
package from the aces at Ace.
(Country Paul Payton, March 2005)
Early Girls, Volume 4 - Ace CDCHD 1045
More info: http://www.acerecords.co.uk/gotrt/2005/mar05/CDCHD1045.html
Previous Volumes: http://tinyurl.com/3wrvu
M & Ms? Little round things, sweet and sometimes a bit nutty. And they
come in different colours too. Motown and Mirwood. Little round records,
some sweet and some nutty. Very nutty sometimes . . . Next time
you have to explain Northern Soul to someone, how about you play them
the Four Tops' "It's The Same Old Song" and then play them the
Olympics' (actually, as the CD's sleeve notes here reveal, just group
member Walter Ward solo) Mirwood recording "The Same Old Thing"?
The similarities between them are remarkable, but the differences are
what make Northern Soul what it is. And while Motown is the cornerstone
of the Northern sound, arguably there's no Northern Soul without Mirwood.
My real introduction to Northern Soul was Mirwood, and it remains my
favourite label to this day. And here for the first time Mirwood really
gets the reissue it deserves. Ady Croasdell was always going to do a good
job on this release, but he's surpassed himself on the sleeve notes here
with information about the label and it's complicated history that only
he could have come up with. The research for this release must have been
a nightmare, but access to the company's paperwork has revealed some interesting
facts. L.A.'s soul recording scene in the '60s was a tightly connected
one, and it's illustrated nicely here with information on Jimmy Thomas,
the Mirettes, the Olympics and the Belles. Ever wondered why those girls
like Gloria Jones and the Holloway sisters, Brenda and Patrice, all have
a similar sound? Well wonder no more - it's Patrice's lead vocals on the
Belles' "Don't Pretend", for instance. No surprise, really,
when you listen to it again here in nicely mastered sound. And the story
of Bob & Earl gets perhaps the clearest explanation yet with the many
recordings of those two talented guys. The production names behind the
records get the biographical low-down too, with legendary names like Leonard
Jewell Smith, James Carmichael, Sherlie Matthews and, of course, Fred
Smith all getting the full Kent treatment.
So onto the CD itself. There can't be anyone with even a passing interest
in Northern soul who isn't aware of a Mirwood track, either even if it's
Bobby Garrett's "I Can't Get Away", as used on TV ads in recent
times. But the fact is nearly every Mirwood 45 contains a classic piece
of 1960s L.A. dance music and you almost wonder if they went into the
studio to record things especially to be heard in Northern England dance
halls a few years later. The CD kicks off with a sublime piece of music
in Jackie Lee's "Oh My Darlin'", one that has been strangely
ignored on other less careful compilations. The bass intro, then girl
choir (later joined by male harmonies - wonder who they are?), leads into
a stomping beat and soaring strings, all coupled with Jackie Lee's distinctive
vocals. The difference between Motown and Mirwood is in the sparse, hard
toughness of the production (not hard in a funky way) coupled with the
sweetness of the vocals, harmonies, strings and lyrics, often written
by (as in this case) Sherlie Matthews.
The CD follows on in fine party style with "Baby Do The Philly Dog"
by the Olympics, a group which had a hit history and strong connections
with Mirwood through Fred Smith, who had also worked with them on their
earlier '60s hits. This track has all the Mirwood ingredients wrapped
up in one - horns, vibes and drum-led goodtime dance music, with strong
vocals and simple but clever songs. Next comes the Performers' stomping
"Set Me Free" from 1968 with its nagging piano riff and blasting
horns, the last official release on the label. This CD is classic dancer
after classic dancer from the Belles, Jimmy Thomas and Bobby Garrett leading
up to Richard Temple's (Jimmy Conwell) anthemic, high octane "That
Beatin' Rhythm", which just about sums Mirwood up really.
Mirwood recordings played a key part in the onetime popularity of instrumentals
on the Northern scene. They're not represented here, but, of course, the
backing track for "That Beatin' Rhythm" is "Cigarette Ashes",
one of the best-known Northern Soul instrumentals, and released on another
Mirwood 45 as by Jimmy Conwell, although there's no vocal. We're promised
a Volume 2 from Kent, so maybe it'll appear there. Just to confuse things,
it's also the backing-track for "There's That Mountain" by the
Tripps, a group on Soundville led by Jimmy Conwell.
Track 9 slows everything down a bit with Bob (Bobby Garrett) & Earl
(Jackie Lee, Earl Nelson, Earl Cosby and, later, Jay Dee) and "Baby,
Your Time Is My Time". Track 10 is the smooth (licensed-in from Chicago)
dancer "Stubborn Heart" from the Sheppards, which seems likely
to have been a last minute decision for Mirwood because the release number
was originally for Jimmy Conwell's "To Much", which then came
out on the Gemini label. (It's that kind of info the sleeve notes draw
together.) More smoothies and slowies from Jackie Lee & Dolores Hall's
great soulful, finger-clicking duet "Whether It's Right Or Wrong"
to the atmospheric "Lost" from the pen of Van McCoy with the
vocals of the Darlettes (later the Sweet Things), issued on sister logo
But Mirwood is about stompers and the rest of the CD gives us the chance
to kick up and dance with more well-known Northern Soul classics like
Jackie Lee's "Temptation Walk" (with Jackie singing the pretty
unreal lyric "Now first you lift your legs way up high" and
the girls responding "No, no, Jackie, bye-bye") and a more recent
club favourite from Curtis "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" Lee (also
from Mira), which sounds fantastic here. Everything on the CD sounds so
exciting, fresh and revitalised that it's like hearing them again for
the first time. The Olympics' "I'll Do A Little Bit More" sounds
awesome. New stuff? Well, a newly discovered track by Bobby Garrett called
"Keep It Coming" is a rewrite of the Olympics' "Mine Exclusively"
with the same backing-track - it does sound like a rough vocal run through,
but is worthy of inclusion nonetheless, if only for the excited studio
count-in, something personally I like hearing.
Mirwood is difficult in one respect: the infamous Simon Soussan apparently
obtained the rights to the label in the '70s, which resulted in the release
of instrumental backing-tracks with string overdubs and one or two questionable
vocal versions. The problem is that nobody seems absolutely sure which
ones they are yet. The situation is not helped by legal British releases
on Jay Boy and alternate versions of tracks on Mirwood albums in the States.
As such there are slight variations in some of the different releases.
For sure, Jackie Lee's storming "Anything You Want", included
here, has different backing vocals to the version released by Simon Soussan
on his Soul Fox label, and some of the other tracks sound different to
me, but that could just be the clarity of the mastering. Some of them
sound slightly longer, even if only by a few seconds - I'm sure I don't
remember hearing that laughing at the end of Track 9 before! The cleverness
of Earl Cosby's "Ohh Honey Baby" comes across well here and
Barry White's involvement shows.
The CD finishes up with two of the toughest sounding tracks on the label:
Jimmy Thomas's "Just Trying to Please You", the A-side of his
one-off Mirwood 45 and a personal favourite; and the Performers, who take
no prisoners on "I Can't Stop You", a powerhouse of a meaty
stomper with a nagging hook-line that doesn't let you relax. Volume 2
is promised with the other great sides from the catalogue and some more
unreleased tracks, so hopefully we'll get the chance to hear some of those
instrumentals without the interference!
Another excellent release from Kent, and one which sits nicely with their
two Okeh sets and the more recent Renfro CD as classic examples of L.A.
Northern Soul madness. Finally Mirwood gets the reissue it deserves and
the songwriters and artists will get some of the royalties they've been
denied for years. Put this one on and turn the volume up. These tracks
haven't been heard in such close aural detail since they left the recording
studio, but now we can and the volume makes them more exciting than ever,
(Simon White - manifesto magazine, March
The Mirwood Soul Story - Kent CDKEND 237
More info: http://www.acerecords.co.uk/gotrt/2005/mar05/CDKEND237.html
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