Friday, December 20, 2013

Song of the Week: People - I love You

Today we're going to follow up on a Zombies post which was part of the Parrot Records Spotlight we did last week. The Flip-Side of that single we featured was a Chris White penned tune called I Love You. I noted the 1965 double sided gem of a record failed to make the top 100 in the US but that another band scored a hit with it. Here is that record for you today.

People was a six-person band out of San Jose, California who scored a hit with The Zombies' number. The band recorded the number in 1967, released on Capitol Records January of 1968 and with a real label behind them (yes, I'm looking at you Parrot Records) was able to get enough national airplay that their version hit #14 in the Summer of 1968. It's definitely a little more hippy-dippy than the Zombies original but the inherent quality of the record holds up nicely in this version. Ultimately they didn't stray far from the original: slowed it down a little, added a moody intro, a few effective tacet moments on the C major in the chorus.

People apparently got wrapped up in The Scientology movement and when singer Larry Norman refused to join the organization, he was sacked from the band. Now the rest of the band plays private gigs for the high priest, John Travolta in his inner sanctum. Play the two versions back to back and let us know which you like better. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Song of The Week: The Small Faces - All Or Nothing

Yesterday we spun an Ides of March cover of The Small Faces' third single, Sha-La-La-La-Lee. So today we are going to make the obvious connection and play a Small Faces single for you. As we decided which of the many fine singles from The Small Faces to feature, we thought about how Sha-La-La-La-Lee is about our least favorite single from The Small Faces. Not bad, but just a little bit of a "meh" factor when compiling our favorite songs from the diminutive mod wonders. So we are going to with our favorite Small Faces single ever (at this moment at least. Ask me tomorrow and I may have a different single picked out).

From August of 1966, The Small Faces perform the Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane penned, All Or Nothing. We already featured the superb Flip-Side, Understanding, back in 2012, so it's only right that we flip that seven inch over and play the A-Side now. The single was released on Decca in their native UK and it was one of only two singles of the band's to be released on RCA Victor in the US. It even came with a beautiful picture sleeve. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: The Ides Of March - You Need Love and Sha-La-La-La-Lee

You Need Love
We're going to wrap up our Parrot Records spotlight with a band out of Chicago suburb, Berwyn, Illinois. The band go by the name of The Ides Of March and are best known for their 1970 mega-hit, Vehicle. I hate that song soooo much that I have trouble accepting The Ides Of March's earlier work as good. But it is. 

The Ides Of March released a string of singles for Parrot Records starting in 1966. The song we play today is their third record for Parrot, released in November of that fine music year. The A-Side is the understated You Need Love, written by the band's frontman, Jim Peterik. Jim was yet to unleash hell on America with Vehicle and his other infamous composition, Eye Of The Tiger by his subsequent band, Survivor.

The Flip-Side is a fine cover of The Small Faces number, Sha-La-La-La-Lee.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

PS. Ralph. Do you really need to write your name all over this damn record? If this record was so damn important to you as to tag your geeky name on it, then why, oh why did you get rid of it? Huh? BTW, Ralph, you forgot the possessive apostrophe. You didn't even do it right. Sheesh. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: The Zombies - Whenever You're Ready and I Love You

Whenever You're Ready
I Love You
You can't leave everything to fate. Sometimes just because you do good work, doesn't mean you will meet success. Such is the case with The Zombies. Note for note, perhaps the most consistent band to come out of the UK in the 60s. The band of nerds met only modest success.

Now that said, behind perhaps only Tom Jones, no group was more successful for the under achiever Parrot Records than were The Zombies. The Zombies were far more influential and appreciated in America than in their native UK. Yet even in the British Invasion hungry US, The Zombies limped and crawled under the radar too often. Case in point is today's Song of the Week. This August 1965 release on Parrot Records failed to chart in the US top 100. Similarly, when it was released a month later in the UK for Decca Records, the single failed to chart in the UK top 100. Such was the life of a Zombie. Make incredibly great music, influence other musicians (mostly in the US), fail to sell many records, fail to fill even the smallest venues.

Whenever You're Ready was written by the band's pianist, Rod Argent, the band's most prolific songwriter. As is always the case, the vocal work from Colin Blunstone is hauntingly good. The harmonies spot on. The electric piano break wickedly clever. The lyrics tight and thoughtful. How did this not sell records?

The Flip-Side is equally as good. I'm telling you, EVERYTHING they put out was superb. I Love You was written by the band's bassist and secondary songwriter, Chris White. From the title alone, I should hate this song. But I don't. The trademark Zombies minor chord work, the theme of frustration and unrequited love and Colin Blunstone's voice. Rod Argent even better on the keyboards on this song. You can't go wrong with any Zombies record.

As mentioned earlier, The Zombies had a larger influence than they had record sales. To point, a California band with the dreadful name of  People covered I Love You very nicely and released it on Capitol Records in January of 1968. They had a hit with it. Meanwhile, at the same time, The Zombies were getting dropped by Decca Records and were begging for studio time to record their second and last album, Odyssey and Oracle.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: The Novas - The Crusher and Take 7

The Crusher
Take 7
Day four of our Parrot Records spotlight takes us to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, USA. The Novas may be the first American band to get a release on Parrot Records with their November 1964 release of The Crusher/Take 7. Bob Nolan, the singer of the Novas, usually a surf instrumental band, gets songwriting credit on The Crusher, a tribute to wrestling legend, Crusher Lisowski. The Crusher was covered by both The Cramps and The Ramones. Not bad. We include here today the Flip-Side, the fine instrumental track, Take 7. Believe it or not, the song actually charted at number 88 on the national charts! Dig on the photo of the band rocking the geek chic look. 
And check out Crusher Lisowski to see the inspiration for the song.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: Lulu and the Luvers - I'll Come Running and Here Comes The Night

I'll Come Running
Here Comes The Night
We're letting our Parrot Records freak flag fly for the third day. The first day found us in Newcastle, England. Then we went to Belfast, Ireland. Today we listen to Lulu and the Luvers who hailed from Scotland. 

Lulu scored a hit right out of the gate with her cover of the Isley Brothers' Shout in 1964. That got the diminutive Lulu attention from both sides of the pond. For her second UK single, Lulu recorded a song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. That single got skipped by Parrot Records here in the US. But the next thing you know, legendary songwriter and producer, Bert Berns, (whom we have written about here extensively), came a-knockin on Lulu's door. He composed the A-Side and produced both sides of her third UK single (second in the US). We present today the unique US version which features a Bert Berns composition/production on both sides. As we tend to do, we're going to start by flipping the damn record over.

The Flip-Side of the November 1964 US single is the far superior song, in our flippy opinion. The song didn't make it onto any UK single, just the US. The song is the Bert Berns composition (under the pen name Bert Russell), I'll Come Running. The song has that trademark four-chord down beat that Berns made famous with songs like his oft-covered Everybody Needs Somebody To Love. But what makes this nasal voiced rocker a little different is the guitar work by session guitarist, Jimmy Page and his brand new wah-wah pedal. That's some pretty characteristically solid work from Page at 1:46. Lulu lets it all fly as she and Jimmy spar as the song fades out.

Here Comes The Night is the A-Side and it is damn solid and well worth being the chosen side. Garage fans will likely more closely associate the song with yesterday's act, Them. This version of the song is the first recording of the Bert Berns composition, predating Van Morrison and Co.'s take on the song by four months. While I will go on record as saying Them's version is the far superior, let's not blow this one off too fast. Lulu's voice is spectacular and Bert Berns' production is lush and fabulous. The guitar riff made famous in the Them version is still there, albeit a bit hidden. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: Them - Richard Cory and Don't You Know

Richard Cory
Don't You Know
Day 2 of our Parrot Records Spotlight. Squawk! 

Northern Ireland's Them had to have been Parrot's most heart warming success story. The unknown Belfast quartet, you see, was fronted by a diminutive man with a big voice, Mr. Van Morrison, who went on to write a song or two in his day. The first release of Them in the US was the January '65 release of Baby, Please Don't Go with a Flip-Side of G-L-O-R-I-A...Gloria. That wasn't the hit you may think it was. It was the Chicago garage band, The Shadows of Knight, who turned that first Parrot Flip-Side into a US hit, not Them. The easy to play song took-off on stages all across the country and the musicians started to look closer at the little Irish band whose singer wrote the tale of teenage sexual frustration. 

Today we look at one of Them's lesser known releases on Parrot Records, Richard Cory. It's Them's 6th release (of seven) and it was released in the US on May 28th of 1966. The single went nowhere fast. The A-Side is kinda a cover of a Simon and Garfunkel song "written" by Paul Simon. In reality Paul Simon wrote the music, but the lyrics are a direct lift from the poem, Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson of Maine in 1897. The song, like the poem, tells the tale of a well todo man who is the beacon of his community. The story is told from a third person admirer who lusts for Richard Cory's life of wealth, privilege and excellence. Then one day, our narrator is shocked to learn that Richard Cory, the man who had it all, went home and put a bullet through his head. An act that our narrator still yearns to emulate. For years I heard rumors that Jimmy Page played the baritone guitar on Richard Cory but I have not been able to unearth credible evidence to suggest as much. Anyone? There is another version of Richard Cory that has surfaced on some odds and ends records out there. It is quite different with no baritone guitar, a more languid pace and a big heap of country styled harmonica. 

We're including the Flip-Side of Richard Cory, which is the very strong jazzy number Don't You Know, written by producer Tommy Scott. Scott, incidentally, wrote the A-Side of the preceding Them single, Call My Name, as well as the last Them single (with Van Morrison at least), the hugely influential I Can Only Give You Everything
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Parrot Records Spotlight: The Alan Price Set - I Put A Spell On You and Iechyd Da

I Put A Spell On You
Iechyd Da
By popular request (one anonymous request to be exact), On The Flip-Side will feature each day this week a different single from the US based Parrot Records.

Parrot Records was created in 1964 as a subsidiary of London Records to release singles licensed from the UK version of Decca Records. Got it? While it was mostly a front to release these UK recordings, Parrot Records did, however, release a few US based records. We'll try to hit some of both this week. One note before we move on to today's single, we want to lay it out there that from a graphic design stand point, few company's had a cooler looking label/sleeve combination. 

The first record in our Parrot Records Spotlight is from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. The artist is The Alan Price Set, and as any serious Flip-Side reader will know already, Alan Price was the founding member of The Animals. He was also their earliest casualty, exiting the band he formed by mid-1965.  In March of 1966, his new band, The Alan Price Set, released their second single in the UK, a cover of the oft-covered Screaming Jay Hawkins song, I Put A Spell On You. In this writer's estimation, hands down the finest version to be committed to wax. A month later The Alan Price Set version was released in the US on Parrot Records, his first US release. As one can well imagine, the single failed to light the world on fire. But that doesn't mean it isn't great. Not a chance. Alan Price's beautiful organ work builds slowly from a smoldering ember to a full on blazing fire. at 1:53. But Price's strong vocal work doesn't get lost by his immense organ skills. He belts out the vocals with confidence and composure and brings the song to a soaring conclusion. 

The Flip-Side is included here today. It is the Alan Price composed jazz instrumental Iechyd-Da. We hope you enjoy.
Until tomorrow, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

R.I.P. Dick Dodd of the Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White and Why Did You Hurt Me?

Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Why Did You Hurt Me?
We were a little slow learning that the voice of The Standells, Dick Dodd, died earlier this week. Tardiness aside, we need to show him some love. Here are The Standells performing the Ed Cobb penned and produced tune, Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White with a Flip-Side of Why Did You Hurt Me?, which is co-written by Dodd. The second single with Dodd was released on Tower Records in August of 1966. The Standells, once a lightweight twist, frat-band, took on a new life when Dick Dodd left the surf band, The Bel-Aires, and took over the drum kit and vocal duties of The Standells. Under Ed Cobb's tutelage and behind Dodd's sneer, The Standells became the epitome of the new attitude of LA garage bands. Dick's voice can be heard over the PA system at Fenway Park 82 times a year as The Red Sox play Dirty Water at every game. RIP Dick Dodd

Song of the Week: The Beach Boys - Darlin' and Here Today

Here Today
Here at On The Flip-Side we tend to focus on the little records that could, not the Goliaths of the music world. But occasionally we break that rule for a compelling record. Today is one of those days.

By the time The Beach Boys recorded and released Darlin'/Here Today for Capitol Records in the waning hours of 1967, the band was in a downward spiral. Brian Wilson's tenuous hold on stability was not so firm. The music scene had changed enough that The Beach Boys were considered passé by most of the hep-cat record buyers who were focusing on The Doors, The Beatles and Jefferson Airplane. But that didn't stop the band from making one last great single. And here is that record.

Darlin' was written by Mike Love and Brian Wilson and recorded on October 27, 1967 with Carl singing lead. It's a curious vocal performance as Carl struggles to hit the higher notes of the song...but in a good way. His performance is enthusiastic and charming and the harmonies, as was always the case with the band of brothers and cousins, is tight as hell. It's a shame the song fades out. Songs should NEVER fade out. Never. An irony here is that this, the last great Beach Boys 45, inspired a Zombies song in their twilight hours. Any guesses as to what that song is?

The Flip-Side is an older song, Here Today, which first appeared on the much vaunted Pet Sounds album in 1966. It's one of the better Beach Boys songs ever with the Pet Sounds trademark lush production. The musicians on the song are the vaunted Wrecking Crew and they nail it on this track. I'm particularly smitten with the music break starting around 1:45. You can hear Brian Wilson yelling out the music cues at two points. Mmmmm, nice.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Song of the Week: The Ventures - The Swinging Creeper and Pedal Pusher

The Swinging Creeper
Pedal Pusher
Anyone who hangs out at this site very long knows that I have a man crush on The Ventures. I think they are simply marvy, to use the parlance of Marcia Brady. In fact, guitarist Nokie Edwards is one of my all time favorites. Catchy, tasteful, tuneful, never more than is needed for the song. No extended noodling leads. Melody all day long. Don Wilson, Bob Taylor and Bob Bogle rounded out the classic line up of Tacoma, Washington's originators of the surf sound.

We feature today both sides of one of their lesser known singles: The Swinging Creeper and Pedal Pusher released on Dolton Records in June of 1965. It's just enough fuzz to make the cool cats over at Surfadelic stand up and take notice. But not so much fuzz that you can't see the peach that are the songs. A little organ thrown in for good measure and a crap load of cool melody.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Song of the Week: The Third Booth - I Need Love and Mysteries

I Need Love
The Third Booth hailed from the music mecca of the world, Canton, Illinois. Specifically the third booth (or table) of the drug store/soda fountain in Canton. In the Spring of 1967, J.C. Cole, Deb Rodney, Tom Reid, Tim Hackett and a guy identified only as "Steve" traveled from the drugstore to the corn farmers town of South Pekin, Illinois to record their one and only single, I Need Love. The song was written by singer J.C. Cole. The band recorded the number in 1967 and originally released the single on Thunder Records when the A-Side was known as Sounds Incorporated. After a minor blip of airplay on a Chicago station, Independence Records picked up the single for redistribution and rechristened the A-Side to the one we see here, I Need Love.

I say this in the nicest possible way, I Need Love must have sounded quite dated by the time it hit the record store(s) in '68. A little fuzz bass, a few reverb drenched harmonies, add a little dash of Them's I Can Only Give You Everything, and you get a classic garage raver in an era when garage raver's were not so vogue anymore. That's okay with us. We also include today, the Flip-Side, Mysteries. A nice little ballad written by Cole that shows the band had some chops and weren't just kicking out yet another cover of Farmer John like so many of their midwest rivals.

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