Sorry for the lack of 45's during the last few weeks; I was out on tour and simply didn't have time!
Today's entry is downright ridiculous, but also happens to be one of the most spot-on John Lennon/ Beatles spoofs that it fooled fans for years.
This song appeared on many 1970's Beatles bootleg LP's as a "long lost track" and my oh my does it ever sound like "Magical Mystery Tour" era John Lennon (perhaps if he had completely forgotten how to write a song?). I really do dig it though, and it took me a LONG time to find the original 45 (the Beatle boot LP's that I have it on all have a badly botched edited version, and a pirate 45 that I found about 8 years ago is pressed off center). Hell, even Yoko Ono applied for a copyright for the song when she discovered it among Lennon's possesions! John was a Beatles collector himself in his later years, and I'm sure he got a kick out of this track being thought of as his own. In fact, when John guest DJ'ed on KHJ Los Angeles in 1974, one of the bootleggers himself (John Wizardo) called in and asked John if it was him on 'Have You Heard The Word'. At first JL was thrown for a loop and mentioned (Beatles) track 'The Word', but then realized that he heard it on a bootleg and said it was a great imitation.
The real story is as that in 1969 Bee Gee Barry Gibb signed a duo known as Tin Tin (Steve Kipner and Steve Groves) to his production company. Their first session together was for their original track 'Have You Heard The Word?" In celebration, Gibb brought in a bottle of Johnny Walker and the boys got too blitzed to be serious, resulting in the vocals we hear here that were added to the backing track recorded pre-inebriation. All intended to ape the fab four, down to the hilarious spoken tag (stick with it til the end, it's worth it). The track was not intended for release, but made it out on a single in the UK in 1970. Word traveled fast that this was a secret Beatle release and VOILA a legend is born!
British 45's of the 60's are one of the 'ultimate' listening experiences to my ears; the sounds of a cultural renaissance whose influence is still felt in music fifty years on.
We begin this installment by featuring a British cover of the hippest record that The Four Seasons ever cut, the piano driven mod classic that is 'Beggin'".
Timebox were an art school-formed group that were deeply influenced by US soul and soul-jazz sounds, and those influences are heard to their greatest capacity on this track. The group never saw much success (this record made the lowest regions of the UK top 40 and was their only hit). The key members regrouped in 1969 in the progressive rock bag as Patto (named after lead vocalist Michael Patrick 'Patto' McCarthy), and guitarist Ollie Halsall went on to play guitar on (the excellent) soundtrack from The Rutles TV special All You Need Is Cash.
Both the Timebox and Four Seasons versions of Beggin' are driven rhythmically in a way that's so strong that it almost makes the song itself inconsequential. However, in the case of the song itself, it too is strong, making for the type of record that's gonna make people stand up and take notice; and they have for 46 years now.
Of course The Hollies scored several hits during The British Invasion and beyond, but this track, tucked away as the b-side to their massive hit 'Bus Stop', is one of their greatest (and toughest) beat numbers. The Hollies were top notch musicians, and friends-since-childhood Allan Clarke and Graham Nash had one of the greatest harmony vocal blends to the east of The Everly Brothers, who, also recorded a fantastic version of this track on their incredible 1966 LP Two Yanks In England. The backing band on the Everly's LP was none other than....drumroll please...THE HOLLIES! The brilliant songwriter "L. Ransford" who's listed on the label? It's none other than Hollies Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks wiriting under a pseudonym. Perhaps in their modesty they didn't want to rub in the fact that they could out-sing, out-play, and even out-write just about anyone else on the scene.
Backwards track? Check. Fuzz guitar? Check. Swirling orchestration? Check. Must be England, 1967! The Marmalade take obvious cues from The Beatles first release of 1967 (Penny Lane b/w Strawberry Fields Forever) here, and the end results are a charming, lovely slice of English pop-psych.
This long-running Scottish group (their original name was the Gaylords) formed in Glasgow in 1961, changed their name to The Marmalade in 1966 and saw a string of massive hits in the UK from 1968 til 1972. The group is still active today with only one original member(!)
""WHERE IT'S AT" Pt 1 featured 4 Vancouver bands from the 1960s - The Collectors, The Poppy Family, My Indole Ring and Papa Bear's Medicine Show, all introduced by British recording star Lulu ("To Sir With Love"). The Collectors with Howie Vickers (lead vocals), Bill Henderson (lead guitar/ later lead with Chilliwack), Claire Lawrence (sax), Glenn Miller (bass), Ross Turney (drums) with a sound described as New Vibrations, performed "Lydia Purple." The Poppy Family with Terry (guitar) & Susan Jacks (lead vocals), Craig McCaw (sitar) and Satwant Singh (tablas), performed raga rock with "Beyond the Clouds." My Indole Ring with John King (lead vocals) were a psych or acid rock band. Their songs were "Wake Me, Shake Me"/"Orange Float Petals." Finally Papa Bear's Medicine Band with Vic Stewart (lead vocals) played goodtime music and their song "Georgie." Craig Wood was Papa Bear. The CBC national pop music series "Let's Go" ended in June 1968 followed by a CBC Vancouver Special "Where It's At" featured each well known band performing a different type of music from the pop music field. A series of the same name followed and lasted till June 1969."
It is far and few that I strongly recommend a Pop record achievement from my own country but, here is one of those rare instances when I strongly do; it is nothing short of a mini-masterpiece, the one time collaboration between famous Tarantino "Death Proof" movie soundtrack recording star, April March (in her world known cover of Swingin' Mademoiselle Ye Ye queen France Gall's Serge Gainsbourg-penned "Laisse Tomber les Filles" : "Chick Habit" that was even used later for a national Renault French car advertising campaign)... and French Indie Avant-rock band, Aquaserge, from the southern provincial town of Toulouse, up to here an excellent Robert Wyatt-era Soft Machine influenced combo. Excellent... which in itself is a rare instance among the French indie rock and pop scene enough to mention!
Considering the love, praise and status that The Zombies swan song LP Odessey And Oraclehas (deservedly) received in the last 30 or so years, it's kinda difficult to fathom the fact that the album was a commercial failure upon its early 1968 release, and it wasn't until the spring of 1969 that the single drawn from it, 'Time Of The Season" became a massive hit.
In the interim, vocalist Colin Blunstone left the music business entirely and began working in the insurance industry. To think that this man, who was gifted with one of the greatest voices in the history of pop music, could have stopped singing at such a young age is an awful thought! However, right around the same time that "Time Of The Season" was released as a 45, producer Mike Hurst coaxed Colin into the studio to record again, a collaboration that yielded three singles released in 1969. For their first collaboration together, Hurst chose to re-record The Zombies first hit, 'She's Not There', in a radical new arrangement that matched fuzz guitar, heavy orchestration, moody stop-start sections and of course Colin's incredible vocals. The frantic string arrangement at the coda is especially surprising, and this excellent record became a minor British hit single. The orchestrated, folky flip side, "World Of Glass" (an excellent compositon by producer Mike Hurst) is practically a dry run for Colin's first three brilliant solo albums, which he (wisely) decided to return to using his real name for.
It's unclear why the name Neil MacArthur was chosen, but anyone who heard "Neil's" distinctive vocals here could deny that it was in fact Colin Blunstone, a point driven home by the fact that his photo was used in promotional ads for the records.
The songs of Harry Nilsson became favorites of those in the know during the late '60's, and the gorgeous ballad "Without Her" was a perfect choice for Neil/ Colin's vocal styling, and Hurst once again provided a dense, complex orchestration for the backing track. Sadly, this record did not repeat the modest success of the Neil macArthur "debut". I apologize about the groove damage on my copy (I need to upgrade); however, all of the Neil MacArthur singles are collected on a CD from Big Beat called Into The Afterlife.
The final Neil MacArthur single is the lovely 'Twelve Twenty Nine"; while it may cross over into schmaltzy pop to some ears, the heartfelt vocals from Mr MacArthur are mighty fine to my ears. MOR or not, if the chord change at the climax of the chorus (first heard at :42) doesn't melt your heart, I feel bad for you!
By 1970, Colin reunited with Zombies bassist Chris White (now acting as producer), and in 1971 his solo LP debut One Yearwas released. Back to being Colin Blunstone forever more, Neil MacArthur was now a faded memory.
(Guerssen is fast becoming the Best European reissue label for all things Psych', rare Beat and Freakbeat, occasional Garage-rock, lost Acid-Folk, Turkish Delights and the best in Cosmic Prog'... so even though this French cult Progressive album already saw a couple previous reissues, they've been deleted for some time, quite hard to find and none were as accomplished as this new one from this Spanish label; since I had something to do with the liners of that deluxe gatefold reissue on fine 180grm vinyl, I thought I might give it a plug on Bedazzled by reproducing my writing here... and hope it'll incite you to purchase that revaluated milestone of 70's French Underground rock : )
Everybody knows where now lies the Sahara desert, once was the garden of Eden. So it should come as no surprise that from Eden Rose comes Sandrose, one of the best French post-Psych Progressive bands, and simply one of the Best progressive Pop bands ever ...Brewed in and born from the ashes of Le Système Crapoutchik (and a host of other incestuous bands and backing bands, a real hard to track mish-mash of old Rock Twist and later Beat groups, as is usually the case on the French scene! ), it was the brainchild of French guitar wiz', Jean-Pierre Alarcen, the local genius of his time : the late sixties in France. Eden Rose started with three members out of Les Gardians (sic.) : Henri Garella on keyboards, Christian Clairefond on bass and Henry Castello on drums, who went on tour opening and backing YeYe idol Claude François in 1965 (... Les Gardians would also open the show and back other popular singers like Hervé Vilard and Michèle Torr). After the recording of four singles, the trio joined ranks with the orchestra backing popular MC of the time, Albert Raisner, on his cult Yeye TV program "Âge Tendre et Tête de Bois". While in Massilia, the southern French city they originated from, they'd play with dance orchestra Les Golden... until the Art Director of Katema records (a tiny label run by an appliances industrial who was a great music lover! ) advised them to change their name with the times. Drummer Henry Castello came up with the name : Eden Rose. When Eden Rose split after a criss-crossing tour of France ending at a club in the city of Oran (Algeria ) - following the recording of their cult album : "On the Way to Eden" (1970 on Katema, distr. Sonopresse ) which went nowhere - and drummer Henry Castello decided to join Jacques Dutronc's backing band on tour... remaining bassist Christian Clairefond and organist Henri Garella came in contact with another drummer, Michel Jullien, also from Massilia. Thru the Dutronc connection, they had already met notorious guitarist Jean Pierre Alarcen who also contributed in the recording of their LP. Alarcen when not backing Dutronc had previously recorded with Le Système Crapoutchick - the name of Dutronc's backing band sans Dutronc - two Eps, a single and an LP (« Aussi loin que je me souvienne »; 1969 on Flamophone ). With Jean-Pierre Alarcen in toe, they decided to hire a young girl singer of Polish origins by the name of Rose Podwojny (... a likely first name! ) and rename themselves : Sandrose. Flashback to 1966, Alarcen had cofounded les Mods with Alain Legovic (future huge M.O.R. singer of the mid 1970's and 1980's going by the name "Alain Chamfort", who was also a Claude François protegee... and was once part of Nicolas Nils' backing band Les Murators which famously covered the Seeds!,). Backing around the same time Jacques Dutronc along with Legovic, was Michel Palay and Gérard Kawczinsky (whose unpronouncable Polish name gave way to "Krapoutchick" and "Crapou" which sobriquet Dutronc liked to fool around with, and which of course gave the name to "Le Système Crapoutchick"... ) with whom Alarcen and Legovic would create Le Système. After the Eden Rose project failed, the members of that group, led by guitar virtuoso Jean-Pierre Alarcen opted for a new approach by adding a girl singer, following the mode of then current Progressive rock like Curved Air in the UK, Michaelangelo, Ill Wind, Ultimate Spinach, Fantasy and countless others in the States where the lead came from, Reign Ghost in Canada, Earth and Fire in Holland, Savage Rose in Denmark, and Circus 2000 in Italy... In fact they even sound like Circus 2000 on several songs ("Vision", "Summer is Yonder", "Underground Session" ) with Rose Podwojny's witchy quality in her voice and the dark features of the music itself!