Thursday, January 30, 2014

Song of the Week: A.A. Bondy - Witness Blues

A.A. Bondy, from Birmingham, Alabama and formerly of the indie band Verbena, sings Witness Blues off of his debut solo project American Hearts. This was recorded in a barn in the Catskills in 2007 and released in September of that year. A siren of sorts goes off punctuating the end of the song, almost as if on cue. Enjoy!

So make yourself a mask of chrome and heartaches
And give yourself a hand to turn away
Once you heard a choir when you were dreaming
And you wish you could remember it today

See you on the Flip-Side!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Song of the Week: The Velvelettes - Needle In A Haystack and Should I Tell Him

Needle In A Haystack
Should I Tell Him
Yesterday we gave you Welsh blue-eyed soul singer, Tawny Reed, performing Needle In A Haystack from '65. We return today with the original version of Needle In A Haystack. 

Needle In A Haystack was first recorded by a lightly known Michigan girl group called The Velvelettes on the Motown Records subsidiary, V.I.P. Records, in September of 1964. It was their second single. The Velvelettes had a rotating cast of members, but the heart of the band was Bertha Barbee McNeal, Mildred Gill, Betty Kelly and Carolyn Gill. Carolyn took the reigns as the lead singer. 

We're also including the Flip-Side, the more than solid Should I Tell Him which really allows Carolyn Gill to show off her singing chops. It's a fine double sided gem. 

The band went on to record another local hit the next year, He Was Really Saying Something, which was covered by the Terry Hall controlled band, Bananarama, in the mid-80s.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Song of the Week: Tawny Reed - Needle In A Haystack and I've Got A Feeling

 Needle In A Haystack
I've Got A Feeling
From October of 1965, we present a blue-eyed soul singer from Wales named Tawny Reed. Tawny was a big voice in a little package. She was full of potential as this double sided gem proves, but remarkably she only managed two singles in her career. This disc was her first. Released in her native UK on Pye Records, this rare American release saw her get a release on the girl-group friendly Red Bird Records. The A-Side, Needle In A Haystack is a cover of The Velvelettes single. The Flip-Side is a cover of Baby Washington's number. I've Got A Feeling (published on this disc as I Got A Feeling). We think Tawny does a fine job on both.

Check out the vid of Tawny performing I've Got A Feeling. We're pretty sure the creepy kid in the sweater standing uncomfortably on her shoulder can today be found on some sort of sex offender data base somewhere in this world. Uncomfortable. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, January 24, 2014

White Whale Records Spotlight: The Turtles - Outside Chance

We're wrapping up our White Whale Records spotlight with arguably the best song ever published by the little label that only lasted five years. The song is Outside Chance and is performed by the label's standard bearer, The Turtles. The Turtles scored a few hits for the label such as Happy Together and the rather painful to listen to Elenore. But this wasn't one of those hits. Outside Chance was released in the Summer of 1966 and was the band's 5th single. The copy you see above is particularly rare as it appeared only as a promo in the Pacific Northwest in July. The single was officially released a month later with a different Flip-Side and a different serial number. Just geekin' out for you record collectors. 

Outside Chance is a superbly crafted song written under a pseudonym by the late Warren Zevon. It just drips with "60s-garage cool" juices. Killer opening riff, defiant lyrics and a remarkably odd bridge. Throw in the jazzy electric piano solo and Howard Kaylan's wonderfully diverse vocal delivery as he easily goes from gentle to growly, and you have a perfect song. Perfect. Mark Volman does most of the harmonizing and Chip Douglas, John Barbata, Al Nichol and Jim Tucker rounded out the band.

The Chesterfield Kings covered this number on their 1979 debut album. Click here for a song-by-song run down of that album. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

White Whale Records Spotlight: The Clique - Superman

In search of the elusive White Whale (records) for another day. You can call us Ishmael!

The Clique hailed from Houston, Texas and emerged out of Houston garage band, The Lavender Hour, perhaps best known for their 1967 song, I've Got A Way With Girls. That number was covered by The Chesterfield Kings sometime around 1986. (We wrote about their version a couple of years ago. Check it out here). 

Back to The Clique: Truth be told, I don't have much positive to point towards when it comes to The Clique. They did an okay cover of The 13th Floor Elevators' Splash 1, but their bubblegum sound took over on way too many of their songs other than this one fabulous pop song called Superman. It is of course the Flip-Side to a lesser song pimped out as the A-Side. And it would have stayed largely obscure if not for a band from Georgia called R.E.M. who covered Superman nicely in 1986 for their Life's Rich Pageant album. The harmonies on this song are superb and the simplicity of the structure of the song make this irresistible. I'd argue that the song sounds like a song from earlier in the 60s, but this was released in the Summer of 1969 as the music all around them was getting very heavy and very self indulgent.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

White Whale Records Spotlight: John's Children - Smashed! Blocked!

Day 2 of our hunt for White Whale records leads us to a little known UK mod band called John's Children. Today they are probably best known for being the launching pad for T-Rex frontman, Marc Bolan. But Marc wasn't in the band when John's Children (previously known as The Silence) released their debut single. It was released in the UK on Columbia Records in October of 1966 as The Love I Thought I'd Found. In the US it was released in November of '66 under it's intended name, the more abstract title of Smashed! Blocked! It would prove to be the only release in the US the band would ever get. The song was composed by bassist John Hewitt and ostensibly producer Simon Napier-Bell. We look at writing credits by producers with a VERY jaundiced eye, however. Andy Ellison was on vocals, Chris Townson on drums and Geoff McClelland on guitar.
Smashed! Blocked! is a wonderfully odd number that starts off with haunting disembodied intro that climaxes into a full chorus of "Smashed, Smashed, Smashed". Then it goes into a totally new direction - a rather soft and melodic croon. All that before it fades off with a horn section. The song is a funky little thing, indeed. Most of the band's work was a little odd. After just two singles they were dropped by Columbia and then picked up by their mentor's label, The Who's Track Records. After a handful of singles and one UK album called Orgasm, the band smashed apart.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

White Whale Records Spotlight: Bob And Earl - Harlem Shuffle

For the remainder of this abbreviated week (in the US, that is), we're going to take a look at a few records from the short lived White Whale Records label out of Los Angeles, California. The label only lasted from 1965-1970 and fed almost entirely off of the success of Los Angeles band, The Turtles. 

Today we start with Bob and Earl and their original composition, Harlem Shuffle. Bob Relf and Earl Nelson hailed from Los Angeles and recorded for a bunch of different labels. Harlem Shuffle is today their enduring legacy. The cool groover was originally released in 1963 on the Marc Records label but was re-released on White Whale in 1969. The song has been covered many times by many bands, including The Rolling Stones who released the version of the number as a single in 1986. But none is better than the original.
Until tomorrow, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Song of the Week: The Honeycombs - It Ain't Necessarily So

Warning: Nerd rock is laid on thick in this post. That's because we're talking about London's The Honeycombs who were one of the many Joe Meek produced bands to be unleashed on the listening public. The Honeycombs have one of the best names you will ever hear. "What?", you say, "Honeycombs isn't very good of a name." Ahh, but wait for it my child. The band got the name The Honeycombs after their drummer, Honey Lantree who was….a hairdresser. Get it. Honey. Combs. The woman, Honey, combs hair. The Honeycombs. Sheesh, that took you too long to figure it out. The rest of this unhip combo were Dennis D'Ell singing, Martin Murray, Alan Ward, and Honey's brother, John Lantree.

We're going to feature their bizarre little cover of George Gershwin's bizarre biblical reference number, It Ain't Necessarily So. It's bizarre. That's why we like it. It was featured on the Flip-Side of their debut album, released in the UK on Pye Records and in the US on Vee Jay Records in 1964.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kit and The Outlaws - Don't Tread On Me

Brilliant! Some songs so crystalize the sound of 60s garage punk in America that you just take them for granted. Kit and The Outlaws of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas created one of those perfect songs. Perfect riff. Perfect anti-establishment lyrics. Perfect delivery. 

As usual we are talking about the Flip-Side of a single. In this case, their 1966 release, Don't Tread On Me. The snotty number was the Flip-Side of a very pedestrian cover of In The Midnight Hour. Originally released on local label BlacKnight Records in the Summer of '66, we feature here the Phillips Records release as unleashed on the public in December of that same fine year. 

Kit and the Outlaws were (from L-R in the photo below) Kit Massengill on guitar and vocals, Joe Jesmer on drums, Jerry Colwell on organ and back up vocals and Alan Rafkin on bass. Kit wrote Don't Tread On Me and it feels autobiographical. Kit looks like he may have had a chance to have pissed off a few people in conservative Dallas in 1966. Way too cool for that town in that day. So cool we have to share Kit's lyrics to Don't Tread On Me
People walking around on me
Trying to stomp my name in the ground
They use and bruise and try to confuse me
But I just don't make a sound
I'm used to having an overload
Yeah, carrying more than my share
But you sigh and cry and try to lie
And babe, you just get in my hair 
Don't tread on me (don't tread on me)
Don't you tread on me (don't tread on me)
I just want to be free (don't tread on me)
Don't you tread on me
No, no, no 
Child there are things that make me cry
Things I don't quite understand
Like you go out with other guys
But say I'm your only man 
Don't tread on me (don't tread on me)
Don't you tread on me (don't tread on me)
I just want to be free (don't tread on me)
Don't you tread on me
No, no, no 
Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it
Don't walk on me
I need yah!
I need your loving
But don't you try to walk on me 
Oh, don't tread on me (don't tread on me)
Don't, don't you tread on me baby (don't tread on me)
I, How I want things to be (don't tread on me)
Just, just like I was free (don't tread on me)
Please, don't you tread on me (don't tread on me)
No, no, no don't do it, don't do it
No, no, no, no, no, Nooooo
Photo lifted from the cool cats at Garage Hangover. You can read more about The Outlaws on that site by clicking this link.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Song of the Week: The Harrison Brothers - Baby, I'm Coming Home To You and Standing On The Corner

Baby, I'm Coming Home To You

Standing On The Corner

From 1963 or 1964 on the micro label, Everlast Records, we have The Harrison Brothers performing a beautiful double sided gem. The Harrison Brothers were Jim and Bobby Harris who hailed from New York.

Baby, I'm Coming Home was listed as the A-Side. But we can't decide if we like the A-Side or the Flip-Side, Standing On The Corner, better. You get to help us decide.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Song of the Week: Sam and Dave - Listening For My Name and If She'll Still Have Me

Listening For My Name
If She'll Still Have Me
From August, 1963, comes a lovely double sided gem from the double dynamite duo of Sam and Dave. This record was released on Roulette Records, BEFORE the South Florida gospel singers were signed to Stax Records and backed by Booker T. And the MG's on multiple hits. As usual, we think the Flip-Side is better than the A-Side (we are soooo damn predictable). Thus we are promoting the finger snapping Listening For My Name to the first spun here. But we like If She'll Still Have Me almost as much. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Song of the Week: The Yardbirds - Drinking Muddy Water

Today is Jimmy Page's birthday so we felt compelled to spin something from Mr. Page's large catalogue of work. Today's song comes from the twilight hours of The Yardbirds, just months before the band would transmogrify into a little known act called Led Zeppelin. We're going to feature the Flip-Side of their October 9,1967 US-only single on Epic Records. Released just as my mom went into labor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, BTW. The cleverly titled Drinking Muddy Water was the band's second to last single in the US and it is credited to the entire band (note the typo on Chris Dreja's name), but as with too many things Jimmy Page, the number is clearly lifted from another artists' number. In this case Muddy Waters' Rollin And Tumblin'.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Elvis Presley

Happy birthday Elvis Presley. I'm sure you are celebrating with a banana and peanut butter sandwich in your secret hiding place.

Song of the Week: The Seeds - Faded Picture

The Seeds can really divide people. Some love the very American, very amateur wheezy sound of The Seeds. Others just can't stand Sky Saxon's vocals and repetitive composition style. Let alone his lyrics celebrating flowers and farmers and, well, all things agrarian. Me? I love it.

Just like yesterday, we are going to dig deep into an LP and pull a largely overlooked song off of it. Also like yesterday, we are going to feature a song from a sophomore album. In this case we are dealing with The Seeds October 1966 release on GNP Crescendo, A Web Of Sound. The song is A Faded Picture. The 5:20 song was written by Sky Saxon and keyboardist, Darryl Hooper. You can't tell me this song, with it's lyrical imagery of days gone past and delicate electric piano mixed with a spooky organ solo wasn't a huge influence on The Doors.

Jan Savage is on guitar and Rick Andridge on drums. Marcus Tybalt (aka Sky Saxon) produced the number. Behind maybe only The Byrds and The Chocolate Watchband, it was tough to find a cooler looking band.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Song of the Week: The Beau Brummels - Can It Be

The Beau Brummels hailed from the North Beach section of San Francisco where they had a residency at El Cid. But it was in San Mateo, California at the Morrocco Room where they were discovered by the owner of Autumn Records, a largely soul based label. The Beau Brummels' 1964 debut album on Autumn Records was one hell of a great debut album and their two singles from that album --  Laugh Laugh and Just A Little --both charted in the Billboard Top 10 despite Autumn Records' distribution limitations.

A year later The Beau Brummels were back in the studio to record their sophomore album, the obtusely named Volume 2. The singles from that album failed to light the world on fire, but it's a superior album to the equally cryptically named first album, Introducing. The 100% original composition album was spearheaded by guitarist and songwriter, Ron Elliot. If there is a flaw to the album it is that singer Sal Valentino doesn't sing lead on each and every song. Bassist Ron Meagher and Ron Elliot handle vocal duties on selected songs just fine, but neither is a patch on Valentino and his far ranging voice. Today we pluck a non-45rpm song from the album: Can It Be. Written by Ron Elliot, the song shows off the bands' skill at their original jangly sound that was surely an influence on The Byrds who were just taking flight at this time. 

Shortly after they recorded this album, Autumn Records was purchased by Warner Brothers who forced the band to record an album of covers. What a stupid idea. This was one of the few bands -- Rolling Stones, Byrds, and Beatles included -- that was capable of releasing full length albums of original compositions. But nope, Warner had them cover Beatles, Sonny and Cher and even do a rendition of Louie, Louie. Ugh. Damn Record company executive weenies.

Declining record sales, Ron Elliot's medical problems and the Vietnam War draft savaged the band who ceased to exist by 1969.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, January 6, 2014

R.I.P. Phil Everly -- The Everly Brothers - The Price of Love/It Only Costs A Dime

The Price Of Love
It Only Costs A Dime
R.I.P. Phil Everly.

May, 1965. The kids in America were no longer yelling "The British Are Coming." Like Hugh Grant in the back of a rental car in West Hollywood with a $20 hooker, the British had already come. The Rolling Stones, The Animals and The Beatles ruled the airwaves. Some Bluecoats like the Beau Brummels and Paul Revere and the Raiders kept their head slightly above the rising tide of Liverpudlians and the likes. (every non-American is now going..."WTF is a  'Bluecoat'?"). Some Americans picked up a guitar and joined the party. But others got washed under. That was the case with The Everly Brothers. Nobody wanted to hear their parents' musicians harmonizing politely. The Everly Brothers were as useful as Hugh Grant's mea culpa. 

But that didn't stop Don and Phil from making 100% great music. The Price Of Love was released in May of 1965 on Warner Brothers Records to a giant yawn. But, in our opinion, this is one of the finest songs the Brothers ever wrote and recorded. It's more rocking than most Every Brothers compositions. Baritone guitar, wailing harp and snotty attitude. The Flip-Side, It Only Costs A Dime, is more traditional Everly Brothers fare. Scorned lover, sweet harmony and clever lyrics.

Enjoy both sides of the single. Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!