Saturday, 24 June 2017

"Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sound Of 1967" (October 2016 Grapefruit 3CD Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review Along With 300+ Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
1960s and 1970s MUSIC ON CD - Volume 1 of 3 - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...Magic In The Air..."

The Summer of Love's 50th Anniversary has arrived in the Summer Of 2017. Well tickle my pink sideburns and stroke my soggy petunia - let's all run through fields with dandelion-stalks in our mouths toward the chocolate-bar trees with our crocheted doughnuts dangling in the wind while Granny takes a trip on the lysergic love-boat to Lewisham. Yeah baby...

England's 'Grapefruit' label is part of Cherry Red's pantheon of reissue companies and they're dedication to all things Psych, Hard Rock and hairy-bottomed Avant Garde has taken the collector's market by storm. I recently raved about their "I'm A Freak, Baby..." 3CD Box Set from July 2016 that offered up an amazing array of Heavy Psych and Hard Rock from the British Underground Scene between 1968 and 1972. A stone-to-the-bone five-star release if ever there was one – it comes housed in a beautifully presented clamshell box with a chunky booklet and great audio too (see review).

My point is that it was always going to be joined by an equally lunatic but worthy digital sibling. "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds..." is that spiritually connected follow-up but this time concentrating on just one pivotal year – 1967. Taking its name from lyrics in the song "Toyland" by The Alan Bown - Grapefruit have even managed to locate a Previously Unissued recording from the darlings of Mega-Money Psych 'Tintern Abbey' - a name that can make some collectors spontaneously genuflect and chant "I am so clearly not worthy..." a worrying number of times.

With a whopping 80-tracks to shake my ageing geranium at - there's a huge amount of detail to wade through. So once more my trippy-hippy paisley-pants wearing friends unto the LSD larynxes, lava lamps and love truncheons of barking-mad Blighty (and that's just Disc 1)...

UK released 20 October 2016 (27 October 2016 in the USA) - "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds: The Psychedelic Sounds Of 1967" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Cherry Red/Grapefruit CRSEGBOX033 (Barcode 5013929183308) is an 80-Track 3CD Compilation of Remasters housed in a Mini Clamshell Box Set that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (77:56 minutes):
1. Toyland - THE ALAN BOWN (October 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1355, A-side)
2. Magic In The Air - THE ATTACK (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
3. Sunway (Smokey Pokey World) - THE TICKLE (November 1967 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3004, A-side)
4. I Can See Through You - EPISODE SIX (October 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17376, A-side. Featured Ian Gillan and Roger Glover of Deep Purple)
5. The Madman Running Through The Fields - DANTALIAN'S CHARIOT (September 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8260, A-side. Features Zoot Money)
6. Dogs In Baskets - GERANIUM POND (Not original issued, recorded October 1967)
7. Eiderdown Clown - THE SCOTS OF ST. JAMES (September 1967 UK 7" single on Spot Records JW 1, B-side of "Timothy". Bassist Alan Gorrie later formed Average White Band)
8. Dear Delilah - GEORGE ALEXANDER (Previously unissued, recorded circa August 1967, pre Grapefruit Demo)
9. Pink Purple Yellow And Red - THE SORROWS (June 1967 UK 7" single on Piccadilly 7N 35385, A-side)
10. Lazy Man - THE MIRAGE (Not originally issued alternate version, recorded mid-1967)
11. Give Him A Flower - THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN (September 1967 UK 7" single on Track 604008, B-side of "Devil's Grip")
12. Tanya - TINTERN ABBEY (Previously unissued, recorded November 1967)
13. Prodigal Son - FLUER-DE-LYS (September 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56200, A-side. Featured Guitarist Bryn Haworth)
14. See The People - THE LOMAX ALLIANCE (May 1967 UK 7" single CBS Records 2729, B-side of "Try As You May". Featured Jackie Lomax)
15. Time To Start Loving You - THE MICKEY FINN (December 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3086, B-side of "Garden Of My Mind". The A-side is on the "I'm A Freak, Baby..." 3CD Box Set from July 2016 also on Grapefruit)
16. I Hear The Sun - THE FINGERS (Not originally issued, recorded June 1967. Featured Singer and Guitarist Richard Mills who formed CDR on Track 17) 
17. Nice - CROCHETED DOUGHNUT RING (October 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56204, A-side)
18. My House Is Burning - THE GOOD THING BRIGADE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
19. Ice Woman - THE MOTIVES (October 1967 Dutch-Only EP "The World Is A Trapezium" on Telstar Special Products LP 1021, 120 copies only)
20. Look At The Sun - LOUISE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967). Featured Tony Durrant of Fuchsia and Chris Cutler of Henry Cow)
21. I Won't Hurt You - NEO MAYA (September 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17371, A-side. A cover of a West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band song)
22. Path Through The Forest - CLIFF WARD (Not originally issued, recorded March 1967. Later had hits "Gaye" and "Wherewithal" as Clifford T. Ward)
23. Sanity Inspector (Single Version) - THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP (December 1967 UK 7" single on United Artists UP 1203, B-side of "Mr. Second Class")
24. 'Cos It's Over - THE SUMMER SET (October 1967 US 7" single on Roulette R-4766, B-side of "Let's Go To San Francisco")
25. Try Me On For Size - THOSE FADIN' COLOURS (Not originally issued, recorded May 1967. An Electric Prunes cover)
26. Silver Tree Top School For Boys - THE SLENDER PLENTY (September 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56189, A-side. An original David Bowie song)
27. Evil Woman - GUY DARRELL (September 1967 UK 7" single on Piccadilly 7N 35408, A-side. A Larry Weiss song also later covered by The Troggs, Canned Heat and Spooky Tooth)

Disc 2 (79:12 minutes):
1. Flames - ELMER GANTRY'S VELVET OPERA (November 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3083, A-side)
2. Double Sight - ONE IN A MILLION (December 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records 1370, B-side of "Fredereek Hernando")
3. Keep It Out Of Sight - PAUL and BARRY RYAN (February 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12567, A-side. Written by Cat Stevens)
4. Defecting Grey - THE PRETTY THINGS (not originally issued full-length version, recorded October 1967. The November 1967 UK 7" single of "Deflecting Grey" ran to 4:28 minutes, here it's extended to 5:12 minutes)
5. Desdemona - JOHN'S CHILDREN (May 1967 UK 7" single on Track 604003, A-side. Featured Marc Bolan of T. Rex)
6. Smokeytime Springtime - THE DOVES (Not originally issued, recorded October 1967)
7. Flowers In Your Hair - JOHN WILLIAMS (August 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8251, A-side)
8. All So Long Ago - SWEET FEELING (May 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8195, A-side)
9. Reflections Of Charles Brown - RUPERT'S PEOPLE (July 1967 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 8226, A-side)
10. Toy Soldier - THE RIOT SQUAD featuring David Bowie (Not originally issued, recorded April 1967)
11. The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone - THE RATS (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967. Featured Mick Ronson later with Bowie)
12. Something To Write About - CIRCUS (Not originally issued, recorded 1967)
13. Funny Face - DAVE DAVIES (from the September 1967 UK LP "Something Else By The Kinks" on Pye NSPL 18193)
14. Village Green - THE BROOD (Not originally issued, recorded circa September 1967. Produced by Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who)
15. Mr. Sun - TONY RIVERS & THE CASTAWAYS (Not originally issued, recorded 1967)
16. Your Servant, Stephen - THE PEEP SHOW (October 1967 UK 7" single on Polydor 56196, A-side)
17. And The Squire Blew His Horn - THE UGLYS (August 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2933, A-side. Written by Steve Gibbons and Jimmie O'Neill)
18. Vote For Me - THE MOVE (Not originally issued, recorded August 1967)
19. A Day In My Mind's Mind - THE HUMAN INSTINCT (December 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 167, A-side)
20. She Was Perfection - MURRAY HEAD (May 1967 UK 7" single on Immediate IM 053, A-side)
21. Little Girl Lost And Found - PETER & THE WOLVES (October 1967 UK 7" single on MGM Records MGM 1352, A-side. A cover of The Garden Club hit)
22. Flower Power - BIG JIM SULLIVAN (from the September 1967 US LP "Sitar Beat" on Mercury SR-61137)
23. Kaleidoscope - PROCOL HARUM (Not originally issued Stereo version, recorded July 1967)
24. Crazy Dreams - THE SEARCHERS (November 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17424, B-side of "Secondhand Dealer")
25. In The Deep End - THE ARTWOODS (April 1967 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5590, B-side of "What Shall I Do". Featured Keef Hartley, Ron Wood of The Faces and Rolling Stones and Jon Lord of Deep Purple)

Disc 3 (76:01 minutes):
1. Finding it Rough - HAT & TIE (January 1967 UK 7" single on President PT 122, B-side to "Bread To Spend" (re-issued April 1967 with sides reversed). Features Patrick Campbell-Lyons (later with England's Nirvana) and Chris Thomas of The Second Thoughts (The White Album and The Sex Pistols)
2. Fashion Conscious - THE FRESH WINDOWS (June 1967 UK 7" single on Fontana TF 839, B-side of "Summer Sun Shines". Written by Brian Barrett - not Syd Barrett as some have claimed)
3. The Addicted Man - THE GAME (January 1967 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5553, A-side. Withdrawn due to lyrical content)
4. Meditations - FELIUS ANDROMEDA (November 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12694, A-side)
5. Delighted To See Me - THE HONEYBUS (Not originally issued Demo Version, recorded April 1967)
6. So Many Times - ICE (October 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12680, B-side of "Anniversary (Of Love)". Later became Vertigo Prog rockers Affinity)
7. A Walk In The Sky - THE FLOWER POT MEN (November 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 160, A-side)
8. Friends And Mirrors - FIVE'S COMPANY (Not originally issued, recorded May 1967)
9. Family Tree - THE LATE (Not originally issued, recorded late 1967)
10. I Think I Need The Cash - THE SECRETS (June 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2818, B-side of "I Intend To Please". Featured Clifford T. Ward)
11. Schizoid Revolution - SKIP BIFFERTY (Not originally issued, recorded early 1967. Written by Newcastle's Alan Hull later of Lindisfarne)
12. Granny Takes A Trip - THE PURPLE GANG (April 1967 UK 7" single on Transatlantic/Big T Records BIG 101, A-side)
13. Emily Small (The Huge World Thereof) - THE PICADILLY LINE (September 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2958, A-side. Band name deliberately misspelt with one 'c' instead of two to avoid a clash with London Transport)
14. Help Me Please - THE OUTER LIMITS (April 1967 UK 7" single on Deram DM 125, B-side of "Just One More Chance")
15. 'Cept Me - FOCAL POINT (Not originally issued, recorded June 1967. First signings to The Beatles Apple label)
16. Great Shadowy Strange - JADE HEXAGRAM (Not originally issued, recorded November 1967)
17. Busker Bill - THE TRUTH (Not originally issued, recorded mid-1967)
18. Life's Not Life - THE MOODY BLUES (January 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12543, A-side. Written by Denny Laine and Michael Pinder)
19. I Can't Get Away From You - DON CRAINE'S NEW DOWNLINERS (February 1967 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17261, A-side. Cover version of a song by the American Garage Band The Remains from 1965)
20. Again - THE SYMBOLS (December 1967 UK 7" single on President PT 173, B-side of "(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up")
21. Odd Man Out - THE HI-FI'S (from the June 1967 German LP "Snakes And Hi-FI's" on Star Club 138 035 STY)
22. Laughing Man - THE MARMALADE (August 1967 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2948, B-side of "I See The Rain". Written by William 'Junior' Campbell who would have several hits in the early Seventies on Deram as a solo artist)
23. Ginger - T.J. ASSEMBLY (from the November 1967 UK LP "Travellin' Round" on House Of Sound HOS 007. Private Pressing, 25 Copies Only)
24. Michelangelo - THE 23rd TURNOFF (Not originally issued Demo Version, recorded July 1967)
25. Supporters - Support Us - THE Q.P.R. SUPPORTERS (March 1967 UK 7" single on Eyemark EMS 1008, A-side)
26. Listen To The Sky - SANDS (September 1967 UK 7" single on Reaction 591017, B-side of the Bee Gees cover "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator")

Throughout the fantastic 42-page booklet - the text references and pictures epicentres of the Underground and Mod Scene of 1967 London - the UFO Club on Tottenham Court Road, the Middle Earth in Covent Garden's King Street and the Marquee in the capitol’s main thoroughfare - Oxford Street. Aside over 60 rare 7" single labels, picture sleeve repro's and acetate photos - you get wads of memorabilia, buttons, flyers, trade adverts, psych artwork and gig posters crammed onto every page. There's even a W.H. Smith advert in evocative Day-Glo lettering advertising their 'Psych Sounds '67' with cartoon butterflies emerging from a flower-power gramophone (as they do). As you can imagine - it's a feast and my fanboy hat goes off to DAVID WELLS and JOHN REED for the Liner Notes and Project Management - two names collectors both admire and trust. SIMON MURPHY did the Mastering over at Another Planet Music and given the disparate sources - the Audio is uniformly solid. Even when some of the unreleased stuff is sounding rough - it has air around it and feels in your face in all the right ways. A nice job done. To the music...

Disc 1 - you know you're in good company when the quote on Page 1 of the text reads "Straight to Heaven in '67!" It was EMI advertising The Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play" and although conspicuous by their absence (licensing rights I'd imagine) - the first instalment opens on a cutesy period piece - "Toyland" by The Alan Bown in its Mono Single Mix glory. The box set title comes at us in the lyrics as we're told we must go down and blow our minds where Teddy Bear has the scene all sewn up and there's honey and buttercups (whatever you say mate). Moving on from whimsy we get a more hard-edged guitar with the suitably named The Attack who assure us there's "Magic In The Air". Dreaming no doubt of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie - guitarist Mick Wayne of The Tickle would end up playing on that groundbreaking song - but in the meantime he'd some peace 'n' love to dispense to a girl on his below-the-ground "Subway (Smokey Pokey World)". Colours abound in the 'it's gonna blow' mean-guitar of "Pink Purple Yellow And Red". And if it's not rainbows and spectrums of colour then many songs are fixated on flowers. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's incredibly witty "Give Him A Flower" offers up the right balance of nettles vs. roses in its observations on the whole hippy movement (why isn't this slice of quotable genius on the radio every day to cheer commuters up). "Tanya" by the legendary Tintern Abbey speaks of a young lady leaving her land of cherry blossoms for revelations in Soho's Wardour Street that don’t quite expand her mind but do deplete her purse.

For sure the brutally crude audio that accompanies "Time To Start Loving You" by one of the big bands for collectors The Mickey Finn - isn't going to win any Living Stereo awards right soon - but the track still rocks (neither is Cliff Ward's "Path Through The Forest" for that matter). There's amazing musicality to "Prodigal Son" from Fleur-De-Lys - Bryn Haworth's wonderful way with melody already showing (see my review for his first two solo albums on Island Records in 1974 and 1975 - "Let The Days Go By" and "Sunny Side Of The Street" reissued by Gott Discs a few years back). The heavy Psych guitar of Guy Darrell's "Evil Woman" combined with its cool organ groove proved to have amazing legs because a plethora of artists latched onto it as a cover version they could almost call their own song - The Troggs, Spooky Tooth and Canned Heat amongst them. Nice way to end Disc 1 too...

Disc 2 - apparently taken aback by The Pink Floyd when they played support to those wild Psych boys in March 1967 - Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera infused their previous R&B driving beat with fuzzed-up guitars and came up with the fabulous raver "Flames" in November of that year. That hybrid R&B/Psych sound continues on the musically excellent "Double Sight" by One In A Million and you can almost justify its staggering £1000 price tag in the 2018 Edition of the Record Collector Rare Records Price Guide. The genuine quality continues on the classy "Keep It Out Of Sight" where Paul & Barry Ryan make the most of the excellent dancer gifted to them by a young Steven Georgiou (Cat Stevens). The Pretty Things bring up the whimsy front initially on "Defecting Grey" but then win our hearts by lashing into a stunning phased Sitar break that is quickly followed by driving fuzz-guitar. "Defecting Grey" is the kind of tune that seems to offer up more musical brilliance in its 5:12 minute duration than most bands can manage in an entire album.

The familiar but cherubic face over to the far right of the rare picture sleeve for "Desdemona" by John's Children is of course Marc Bolan - whose distinctive warble would soon be seeking out prophets, seers and sages with Tyrannosaurus Rex before making the world "Get It On" with T. Rex in 1971. Others winners on CD2 include the shockingly soulful "Reflections Of Charles Brown" by Rupert's People - an organ bluesy number with more than a hint of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" in its sound and pace. Not nearly so flowers and peace - Prime Minister Harold Wilson took major legal action and MI5 stalking revenge on Roy Wood and Co. for defaming his name on the huge hit "Flowers In The Rain". The clearly angry and anti-establishment "Vote For Me" song by The Move thereafter got quietly buried in the vaults – a rather good 'it seems my clothes are a drag' rocker that at last stands tall here on Disc 2. 

Disc 3 - Jukebox Jury got all morally righteous on the ass of what they thought was the celebratory "Addicted Man" by The Game – a call to arms in favour of more drug-taking and less crew cuts/bowler hats. Predictably the British tabloids got their collective tights in a tangle (have they ever been any other way) and Columbia fired their A&R man and withdrew the single. Underground pirate stations though took their revenge on uptight establishment by playing the buggery out of the 'message to the kids' tune - but the joke was ultimately on the South London band who had written it as an 'anti' drugs song only to have their pleadings misconstrued. It was withdrawn and no one got a penny (cracking tune btw). B-sides lost in time include "So Many Times" by Ice - a band that contained Keyboardist Lynton Naiff and Drummer Grant Serpell who along with Linda Hoyle and Mike Jopp would form the much-revered Vertigo Prog rockers Affinity in 1970. Another is the readies-strapped "I Think I Need The Cash" by Kidderminster's The Secrets which included one Cliff Ward who would finally emerge out of the musical shadows on Charisma Records as Clifford T. Ward in 1973 with the deeply beautiful melodies "Gaye" and Wherewithal" (from his album "Home Thoughts From Abroad").

Rarities on Disc 3 include a genuine coup in "Schizoid Revolution" by darlings of the Psych Scene Skip Bifferty. Cut as a demo in the spring of 1967 at Impulse Studios in Wallsend - the song was written by their pal and then psychiatric nurse - Newcastle's Alan Hull who would of course later form the much-loved Lindisfarne. Both Hull, Skip Bifferty Keyboardist Mickey Gallagher and Drummer Tommy Jackman had played as The Chosen Few over on Pye Records. And we will all be forever in debt to the King's Road Boutique at No. 499 called "Granny Takes A Trip" for the song of the same name - a zeitgeist moment of a song adopted as their anthem by the hippest of the hip at Joe Boyd's 'UFO Club' in Tottenham Court Road. Even now it's 'of the moment' words, sound and feel transport me back. And I've never seen the picture sleeve to The Symbols B-side "Again" on President Records (shown on Page 36) or the German Hi Fi's album from their stint at Hamburg's Star Club in all my years of rarity buying at Reckless in Berwick Street.

Plug In, Turn On and Freak Out people - you know it makes sense. Or doesn't make sense. And isn't that why "Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds..." is such a joy. 

All joking aside - hats off to everyone involved in getting this forgotten music back out there in such triumphant style...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

"I'm A Freak, Baby... A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-1972" by VARIOUS (July 2016 Grapefruit 3CD Mini Clamshell Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review Along With 300+ Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
1960s and 1970s MUSIC ON CD - Volume 1 of 3 - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...Hot Smoke And Sassafras..."
Trying to reach into every musically uncharted corner whilst still pleasing everybody and taking no prisoners on content while you do it is a tall order. And for damn sure "I'm A Freak, Baby..." isn't going to please your Auntie Flo's Sunbury-On-Thames Bridge Class as quality pastoral background music. But over at Lemmy's house they'll be breaking out the beer-crates in celebration while a visiting Ozzy Osbourne polishes his upside-down cross with glee and lines up blood-drained headless bats for guest snacks.

Getting a 3CD compilation like this right is a rare achievement. But Cherry's Red's 'Grapefruit' label has been grabbing collectors by the small people for some time now and impressing with beautifully presented and collated retrospectives that touch on underground areas most major labels can’t be assed with (then or now).

Rocking and Heavy Psyching like a marauding mushroom-manic beast - 2016's "I'm A Freak, Baby..." amply shows the reason why devotees to off-the-beaten-track music are whispering the 'Grapefruit' name in hushed tones. I've been a reviewer and Rock Music lover for more decades than I care to remember and even armed with a fairly deep level knowledge - there are bands and titles on here that I've never heard of nor seen in my 20-years as a Rarities Buyer for Reckless in London's Soho (a busy place I can assure you with a high turnover of what's genuinely rare). Unreleased recordings, acetate albums and tracks from privately pressed LPs and Singles of only 30 or 99 copies sit nestled amidst actual chart hitters like Deep Purple, The Move and Hawkwind. The whole mad lot is present and they're damn good too.

There's a ton of stuff to wade through here so once more my Imperial Leather friends unto the tangled underarms of Heavy Psych and Hard Rock. And pass the Vosene Extra Strength and neck-brace darling - we're going to need both. Going underground - here are the overhead details...

UK released 29 July 2016 (7 August 2016 in the USA) - "I'm A Freak, Baby... A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-1972" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Cherry Red/Grapefruit CRSEGBOX032 (Barcode 5013929183209) is a 3-CD 48-Track Mini Clamshell Box Set of Remasters that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (78:24 minutes):
1. All In Your Mind - STRAY (from the June 1970 UK debut LP "Stray" on Transatlantic TRA 216)
2. Cast A Spell - THE OPEN MIND (August 1969 UK 7" single on Philips BF 1805, B-side of "Magic Potion")
3. Hot Smoke And Sassafras - THE MOOCHE (May 1969 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17735, A-side. A Bubble Puppy cover version)
4. My Son's Alive - CRUSHED BUTLER (1970 recording not originally issued - Jesse Hector and Alan Butler later formed The Hammersmith Gorillas)
5. Going Down - CHICKEN SHACK (from the February 1972 UK LP "Imagination Lady" on Deram SDL 5)
6. Father Of Time - CYCLE (from the October 1971 UK LP "Cycle" on SRT Records 71143, private pressing, 99 copies only)
7. I'm Coming Home - THE DEVIANTS (from the June 1968 UK LP "Ptooff!" on Underground Impresarios IMP 1)
8. Do It - THE PINK FAIRIES [feat Twink] (January 1971 UK 7" single on Polydor 2058 089, B-side of "The Snake")
9. Time Machine - FACTORY (February 1971 UK 7" single on oak RGJ 718, A-side, 99 copies only. Featured Andy Qunta later of Icehouse)
10. Cherry Red - GROUNDHOGS (from the March 1971 UK LP "Split" on Liberty Records LBS 83401)
11. I'm A Freak - WICKED LADY (early 1972 recording not originally issued - featuring Martin Wearer of Dark)
12. Rock My Soul - CHARGE (from the January 1973 UK LP "Charge" on SRT Productions 73275)
13. Sweet Mistress Of Pain [aka "Kiss Of The Velvet Whip"] - HAWKWIND ZOO [Hawkwind] (late 1969 recording at Abbey Road not originally issued)
14. Nightmare - STONEHOUSE (from the November 1971 UK LP "Stonehouse Creek" on RCA SF 8197. Featured Jim Smith and Ian Snow later with Asgaerd on The Moody Blues label Threshold Records)
15. Falling - THE IRON MAIDEN [not the British heavy metal band] (November 1971 UK 7" single on Gemini GMS 006, A-side)
16. Apocalypse - BARNABUS (recorded November 1971, previously unissued)

Disc 2 (79:58 minutes):
1. Bogeyman - WRITING ON THE WALL (from the November 1969 UK LP "The Power Of The Picts" on Middle Earth MDLS 303)
2. Fireball - DEEP PURPLE (from the August 1971 UK LP "Fireball" on Harvest SHVL 793)
3. Primitive Man - JERUSALEM (from the March 1972 UK LP "Jerusalem" on Deram SDL 6. Produced by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple)
4. Love In The Rain - EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND (from their July 1969 UK debut LP "Wasa Wasa" on Harvest SHVL 757)
5. Trust - HELMUT (Previously Unreleased 1970 recording. Featured Terry Aitken later with Prog Rock group 'Elegy')
6.  Rhubarb - SECOND HAND (from the March 1969 UK LP "Reality" on Polydor 583 045)
7. Dream - LITTLE FREE ROCK (from the December 1969 UK debut LP "Little Free Rock" on Transatlantic TRA 208)
8. Skullcrusher - IRON CLAW (Not originally issued, recorded 5 December 1970)
9. Zero Time - DARK (from the July 1972 UK LP "Dark Round The Edges" on SIS Studios 0102, 30 copies only plus 2 test pressings)
10. Jehovah - THE VELVET FROGS (not originally issued, recorded late 1969 - featured Dennis Muchmore and John Carrod later with The Method)
11. Brontosaurus - THE MOVE (March 1970 UK 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3026, A-side)
12. STACK WADDY - Bring It To Jerome (from the February 1971 debut album "Stack Waddy" on Dandelion Records DAN 8003. A Bo Diddley cover)
13. Mr. Make Believe - SAMUEL PRODY (from the 1971 German LP "Samuel Prody" on Global 6306 906. Features Tony Savva later with Rusty Butler. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame)
14. Flash - BARE SOLE (Not originally issued, recorded 1969)
15. Street Walking Woman - THE PHOENIX (Previously unissued, recorded 1969)
16. Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You - SKID ROW (from their July 1971 2nd and last album "34 Hours" on CBS Records S 64411. Featured Brush Shiels, Noel Bridgeman and a young Gary Moore on Guitar)

Disc 3 (74:57 minutes):
1. Race With The Devil - THE GUN (October 1968 UK 7" single on CBS Records 3764, A-side. Featured Adrian and Paul Gurvitz later with The Baker-Gurvitz Army)
2. Heart Without A Home - BLONDE ON BLONDE (from the November 1970 UK LP "Rebirth" on Ember Records NR 5049)
3. Ascension Day - THIRD WORLD WAR (from the February 1971 debut LP "Third World War" on Fly Records HIFLY 4. Featured Jim Avery of Thunderclap Newman and Terry Stamp)
4. Street - EGOR (from the 1971 Various Artists showcase LP for new bands "Oddsocks" on Splat DBR 4286)
5. Escalator - SAM GOPAL (from the January 1969 UK LP "Escalator" on Stable Records SLE 8001. Featured Lemmy of Motorhead and Viv Prince of The Pretty Things)
6. Gypsy - URIAH HEEP (from the June 1970 UK debut LP "Very 'Eavy... Very 'Umble" on Vertigo 6360 006)
7. Garden Of My Mind - THE MICKEY FINN (December 1967 UK 7" single on Direction 58-3086, A-side. Mickey Waller and Danny Peyronel would later form Heavy Metal Kids with Gary Holton)
8. Think About It - THE YARDBIRDS (March 1968 USA 7" single on Epic 5-10303, B-side of "Goodnight Sweet Josephine". Features Jimmy Page on Lead Guitar)
9.  Trying To Find My Way Back Home - MORNNG AFTER (from the January 1971 UK LP "Blue Blood" on Sky Records 71014. Features Norman Hume [aka Norman Beaker] later with Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation)
10. Yellow Cave Woman - VELVETT FOGG (from the January 1969 UK LP "Velvett Fogg" on Pye Records NSPL 18272)
11. Too Old - ANDROMEDA (from the September 1969 UK LP "Andromeda" on RCA SF 8031. Features John Du Cann and Mick Hawksworth of The Attack)
12. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) - FLEETWOOD MAC (May 1970 UK 7" single on Reprise RS 27007, A-side)
13. Twisted Trip Woman - SWEET SLAG (from the February 1971 UK LP "Tracking With Close-Ups" on President PTLS 1042)
14. Occult - THE KULT (Previously unissued recording, recorded circa May 1969)
15. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time - THE TASTE (March 1969 UK 7" single on Polydor 56313, A-side)
The Irish Rock band famously featured Rory Gallagher on Lead Guitar and Vocals. Originally the B-side of "Blister On The Moon" - "Born..." was initially entitled "Born On The Wrong Side Of Town" and came with a different mix on Major Minor Records MM 560 in April 1968. The song was retitled and re-recorded for the April 1969 debut "Taste" LP on Polydor 583 042.
16. Hollis Brown - FUSION FARM (from the December 1971 UK LP "Rush Job" on SRT 71169. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Ballad Of Hollis Brown". Shortened their name to Farm and signed to Spark Records for one 45 in February 1974 - "Fat Judy").

Compiled and Annotated by DAVID WELLS with JOHN REED as Project Manager - these are names well known to fans and collectors alike. I know John Reed personally from my days with Reckless and his days suffering for the Record Collector magazine where he literally compiled those first Rare Records Price Guides. His knowledge of British Music is frankly frightening and especially the Avant Garde and Underground scenes and along with the hugely experienced David Wells who does the superlative liner notes - it goes a long way to explaining why this compilation is so good.

ANDY MORTEN at Pepperbox did the gorgeously laid-out design with the 35-page booklet being a feast for the eyes and brains. You get page after page of photos for each act (some of these are so obscure), singles and album sleeves pictured – key players acknowledged and so on. In-between the text are posters, flyers, gig cards, buttons and other tasty memorabilia. Each CD card sleeve has a different festival photo where some unwashed inebriated reprobate is wigging out to another three-day long guitar solo - Weeley Festival, August 1971 for Disc 1 - Glastonbury Festival, June 1971 for Disc 2 and The Isle Of Wight Festival, August 1970 on Disc 3...

SIMON MURPHY over at Another Planet Music has done the Mastering and considering the disparate sources - the Audio is fantastic - suitably grungy, hard rocking and even Punk when it needs to be. And the set is dedicated with warmth to two sad losses in 2015 - Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister and John Whittington. To the music...

Accounts are opened with "All In Your Mind" from Stray - a fantastic nine-minute amalgamation of both box set subtitles - Heavy Psych and Hard Rock. The lads from Shepherd Bush were mere teenagers when they recorded it and you can so hear their Small Faces/Humble Pie fixation in that driving Steve Marriott riffage. England's uber metal merchants IRON MAIDEN would pay Stray and Del Bromham's song the ultimate accolade by recording it as a cover nearly two decades later - landing on the B-side of The Maid's "Holy Smoke" in 1990. We trip back a couple of years to 69's "Cast A Spell" - a proper kick-ass Rocker with The Open Mind more than justifying its £600 (2018) Record Collector Rare Record price tag. Another corking B-side then hits you - The Mooche covering a Bubble Puppy song delightfully called "Hot Smoke And Sassafras". The deeply Atomic Rooster grind of "My Son's Alive" from Crushed Butler feels more early Punk than its 1970 recording date indicates. Forsaking his Blues-Rock and R&B sound for four albums on England's Blue Horizon Records - Stan Webb's Chicken Shack was a power-trio by 1972 and their powerful cover of Don Nix's "Going Down" sledgehammers home this new direction. A huge meaty guitar piles down on the riff as John Glascock (of Toe Fat) and Paul Hancox (of The Mindbenders) try to keep up on Bass and Drums. The batty and very Velvet Underground "I'm Coming Home" from The Deviants features Mick Farren shouting about walking up your stairs until I reach your landing - but that's not before the band go into a proper full-on fuzz-guitar melt down that would make The Stooges terminally envious. Standing naked with newspapers covering their crown jewels - the four members of The Pink Fairies are clearly proud of the very Rock 'n' Roll "Do It" - a spunky rocker Twink would resurrect on Chiswick Records in the Punk explosion of 1977 and 1978. Although I've never been enamoured with the Hawkwind track - other highlights on Disc 1 include the almost Canned Heat boogie of The Groundhog's "Cherry Red" with Tony McPhee letting rip on that guitar - Plymouth's Stonehouse rocking like MC5 on the overlooked album track "Nightmare" on RCA in 1971 - and the impossibly rare Barnabus track where there's said to be only four copies of their double-album "Beginning To Unwind" in existence.

Disc 2 opens with a knees-up Mother Brown moment as an accordion and a deranged man whoop-start "Bogeyman" by Writing On The Wall - only to be quickly replaced with an 'armies of the night' doomer driving rhythm that is surprisingly Funky in its own way. I can remember when this 1969 Middle Earth Records LP used to shift for a ton - nowadays you're looking at £400+. CD number two also introduces familiar British band names and their chart-busting rockers - Deep Purple's utterly brilliant "Fireball" lets Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord do their thing on Guitar and Organ (that intro sound is apparently an air-conditioner and no one seems to know why) while ex Idle Race man Jeff Lynne injects new vitality into The Move on their chunky little raver "Brontosaurus". Primitive and at times hard-to-take Heavy Rock comes in the shape of Deram's Jerusalem and Harvest's Edgar Broughton Band but I suspect most will be shocked at the Heavy-cool of "Trust" - a previously unreleased dinosaur of its own by the sexily-named Hellmut (though rough-sounding it's a find ala Sabbath). Speaking of the Sabbs - their doomy influence is everywhere - from the frankly loony power-rocker "Rhubarb!" by Second Hand to the 'their name liveth' Iron Claw who apparently incorporated the entirety of Black Sabbath's debut into their live act. Peter Illingworth of Lancashire's Little Free Rock rocks out on his axe for the rather excellent "Dream" while Mancunians Stack Waddy dream of Bo Diddley on their Rock-R&B cover of "Bring It To Jerome" (great drum sound). And that's the already extraordinary playing of a 19-year old Gary Moore on Skid Row's groovy and vital "Go, I'm Never Gonna Let You Go" from their second and last album for CBS - "34 Hours" - titled after the amount of time it took to record the album.

Adrian and Paul Gurvitz of Gun were dreaming no doubt of Ginger Baker and laughing gas when they penned the galloping "Race With The Devil" - though it's not a tune I've ever really liked if I'm honest. Disc 3 continues in suitably madcap fashion with the very cool sitar-rock feel to "Heart Without A Home" from Blonde On Blonde - named as you've no doubt guessed after Dylan's monumental 1966 double-album. The incendiary guitar solo at its core is the stuff that Heavy Rock fans dream of and it comes roaring out of your speakers with huge production values too. I don't know if I'd have chosen "Ascension Day" by Third World War - but I reviewed this brilliant and largely forgotten pre-Punk album put out by Esoteric Recordings not so long ago on a typically great CD reissue. Featuring a clearly socially aware and very angry Terry Stamp - I would have gone for the "M.I. 5" track instead - but whichever you song you chose - this 1971 Third World War LP on Fly Records defies its age, label and date. Instead of John Kongos or T. Rex it feels like a 1976 and 1977 album - a full six years before Punk exploded across the UK.

But even that is trampled on by the wonderfully named 'Egor' whose "Street" will have Heavy Rock fans reaching for the superlatives right soon. Apparently a resident band at The Plough and Harrow Pub in Leytonstone back in the day - Egor recorded a showcase LP for new bands album called "Oddsocks" and the astonishing "Street" was their lone contribution. It opens with a World War II air raid siren (I kid you not) and then launches into the most savage riffage you've ever heard - like the band had been mainlined "Fun House" by The Stooges for 12-months straight and amidst a whiskey-fuelled mayhem session added a Harmonica as well. Wow is the only appropriate response! I love The Mickey Finn and I can completely understand why their singles render collectors weak at their very knobbly knees. "Garden In My Mind" is a fantastic rocker that feels way ahead of its December 1967 release date and the band contained Mickey Waller on Guitar and Danny Peyronel on Keyboards who along with another hero of mine Gary Holton would form The Heavy Metal Kids in the Seventies (auf weidersehen pet).

For sure you will 'need' to be seriously into Heavy Psych and Hard Rock to get the toppermost of the poppermost out of "I'm A Freak, Baby...

But if you are – you may need to postpone that trip to Elveden Forest Center Parc with a Physiotherapy Nurse from E17's Whipps Cross and order in a double-strength neck-brace from Amazon. Because after three discs of this mighty sucker – you’re gonna need both...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"On Vine Street: The Early Songs Of Randy Newman" by VARIOUS (March 2008 Ace Records CD - Duncan Cowell and Rob Shread Remasters)

This Review Along With 300+ Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
1960s and 1970s MUSIC ON CD - Volume 1 of 3 - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...Come And See Us..."

Begun in 1975 London - England's Ace Records have been at this reissue malarkey as long as most us have had dental appointments for a sweet tooth. For more than forty years now they've compiled out likes and dislikes on vinyl and CD and nine-times out of ten their superb reissues regularly elicit four and five stars - almost as a norm. But sometimes they just utterly nail it - and with a subject matter that deserves our attention and rediscovery. Even half way through "On Vine Street: The Early Songs Of Randy Newman" - you can 'feel' the class seeping off track-after track on this 2008 CD compilation.

As the risk of sounding trite here (and I don't mean to be) - the reason is Randy Newman's writing. Many (not all) of these Sixties artists couldn't pen a song of their own and would have been at the mercy of 'other' suppliers - the Brill building Pop machine that fed them by-the-numbers hits – another bopper in tune with the latest fad sweeping the dance floors of the nation. But even in cover versions that throwaway sensibility isn't present. You can literally hear these interpretations be sung with genuine soul and passion because the artists singing them 'know' a real song when they sing it.

Split into his two most recognisable styles - wry acidic humour on the one hand sat alongside piano-led pain on the other - most of the best songs on here are ballads actually. And even though there's simplicity to Newman's melodies - his words are deceptively deep - not just a boy and a girl sat in a Chevy on a Saturday night at the Drive-In - all fumbling thumbs and chewing-gum nerves. When you put hurting odes like "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" into the hands of masters like Dusty Springfield or "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" into the lungs of Scott Walker - something magical happens.

I’ve played this compilation from start to finish on more than one occasion (even if I don’t dig everything on here) and on each new listen – my admiration for this classy songsmith only grows. Here are the dancing details...

UK released 31 March 2008 (7 April 2008 in the USA) - "On Vine Street: The Early Songs Of Randy Newman" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDCHD 1186 (Barcode 029667032629) is a 26-song CD compilation covering 1962 to 1970 that plays out as follows (68:57 minutes):

1. The Biggest Night Of Her Life - HARPERS BIZARRE (from their 1967 US Stereo album "Anything Goes" on Warner Brothers WS 1716)
2. Simon Smith And The Amazing Dance - ALAN PRICE SET (February 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12570, A-side)
3. Mama Told Me Not To Come - ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS (from their 1967 US Stereo album "Eric Is Here" on MGM Records SE 4433)
4. Have You Seen My Baby - FATS DOMINO (from the 1969 US album "Fats Is Back" on Reprise RS 6304, also February 1970 US 7" single on Reprise 0891, A-side)
5. Old Kentucky Home – THE BEAU BRUMMELS (from their 1967 US Stereo LP "Triangle" on Warner Brothers WS 1692)
6. So Long Dad - NILSSON (from the January 1970 US LP "Nilsson Sings Newman" on RCA Victor LSP-4269, an entire album of RN covers)
7. Love Story - RICKY NELSON (from his 1968 US Stereo LP "Perspective" on Decca DL 75014)
8. (Intro: Black Jack David)/Vine Street - VAN DYKE PARKS (from the 1967 US Stereo LP "Song Cycle" on Warner Brothers WS 1727)
9. I'll Be Home - LORRAINE ELLISON (1970 recording first issued 1995 on the CD album "Stay With Me/The Best Of..." on Ichiban SCL 2016)
10. I Think It's Gonna Rain Today - DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (from the 1968 UK Stereo LP "Dusty...Definitely" on Philips SBL 7864)
11. I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore - WALKER BROTHERS/SCOTT WALKER (from their 1965 debut UK Stereo LP "Take It Easy With..." on Philips SBL 7691 - called "Introducing The Walker Brothers" in the USA. Same recording also issued as a SCOTT WALKER solo 7" single in the USA in April 1968 on Smash S-2156, A-side)
12. I've Been Wrong Before - CILLA BLACK (April 1965 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 5269, US 7" single on Capitol 5414, Produced George Martin)
13. Take Me Away - JACKIE DeSHANNON (from her 1965 UK Stereo LP "This Is Jackie DeShannon" on Liberty SLBY 3063)
14. Happy New Year - BEVERLEY [later Beverley Martyn, wife of John Martyn] (September 1966 UK 7" single on Deram DM 101, A-side. Features Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on Guitar and Bass with Nicky Hopkins on Piano)
15. Baby, Don't Look Down - BILLY STORM (September 1964 US 7" single on Loma 2001, A-side)
16. Friday Night - THE O'JAYS (August 1966 US 7" single on Imperial 66197, B-side of "Stand In For Love")
17. Big Brother - CALVIN GRAYSON (October 1964 US 7" single on Capitol 5308, B-side of "Where Do I Belong", produced by David Axelrod)
18. Nobody Needs Your Love - GENE PITNEY (June 1966 UK 7" single on Stateside SS 518, A-side)
19. Just One Smile - THE TOKENS (August 1965 US 7" single on B.T. Puppy Records 45-513, B-side of "The Bells Of St. Mary")
20. I Can't Remember Ever Loving You - TAMMY GRIMES (Previous unissued 1966 session - arrangements Jack Nitzsche)
21. While The City Sleeps - IRMA THOMAS (from the 1964 US Stereo LP "Wish Someone Would Care" on Imperial LP-12266)
22. Take Her - FRANKIE LAINE (September 1963 US 7" single on Columbia 4-42884, B-side of "I'm Gonna Be Strong", arranged by Jack Nitzsche, produced by Terry Melcher)
23. Love Is Blind - IRMA FRANKLIN (August 1963 US 7" single on Epic 5-9610, B-side of "Abracadabra")
24. Somebody's Waiting - GENE McDANIELS (December 1962 UK 7" single on Liberty LIB 55510, B-side of "Spanish Lace")
25. Looking For Me - VIC DANA (January 1963 UK 7" single on Liberty LIB 64, B-side of "A Very Good Year For Girls")
26. They Tell Me It's Summer - THE FLEETWOODS (July 1962 US 7" single on Dolton 62, B-side of "Lovers By Night, Strangers By Day")
Tracks 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 23 and 25 are in MONO - the remainder in STEREO

The 20-page booklet is a feast of photos and in-depth info provided by the frighteningly well-informed MICK PATRICK - a man (like me) who clearly needs to get out more. You wouldn't know it by looking at its rare Deram DM 101 label - but Beverley's lone UK seven-inch single entry here features Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on Guitar and Bass while Nicky Hopkins adds the keyboards. Patrick informs the collectors in us all of this kind of info (I’d add that in a few years time the gorgeous Londoner would meet and marry a young Ian David McGeachy from Scotland who would then change his name to John Martyn and they would of course become John and Beverley Martyn on Island Records). Patrick also mentions stuff like the Eric Burdon & The Animals earlier take on "Mama Told Me Not To Come" was produced by Tony Wilson who was closely associated with The Velvet Underground and that the EB version was what Three Dog Night based their cover on - a song that gave them a No. 1 in the USA and a lot of other places too. The photos of rare album covers for Irma Thomas, Jackie DeShannon, The Beau Brummels and Rick Nelson and more spice up the text - while DUNCAN COWELL and ROB SHREAD have done their usual bang up job with the mastering and audio restoration - so many in glorious and ballsy Stereo. To the music...

At first the Harpers Bizarre vaudeville pop of "The Biggest Night Of Her Life" seems slightly throwaway but then the depth of the words hit you - Suzie attending her 16th birthday party where her neat-haired boyfriend might get his crew-cut ruffled. The wit continues with a huge hit for both Newman and ex-Animals main-man Alan Price - "Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear". It's not a tune I've ever particularly warmed too but it does have great audio here. Things really start to cook with the shimmering "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Eric Burdon. Sure his earlier version is more heavy-handed than the brilliant and frankly better Three Dog Night version that would top charts everywhere in 1970 - but it's a truly fascinating listen. Virtually unheard nowadays - Fats Domino lays down a typically swaying and piano-storming version of "Have You Seen My Baby"  - for many people a genuine discovery on here. "Old Kentucky Home" suits The Beau Brummels to a tee.

Things heat up with the impossibly pretty and forlorn "So Long Dad" from the 1970 "Nilsson Sings Newman" album - a record I've reviewed as a separate entity because I think it's a forgotten masterpiece. The Rick Nelson track is from his equally ignored "Perspective" LP from 1968 where each track is linked with natural sounds (here it's slurping water at the beginning of the song). The bizarre Van Dyke Parks track "Vine Street" is made all the more difficult by having 'Black Jack David' lead it in before strings and his strange voice take over. Recorded in 1970 - the Lorraine Ellison track is a sweetheart too but its firmly trounced by both Dusty Springfield and Scott Walker who nail "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" and "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" with fabulous arrangements. The Beverley Martyn track is superb too - a bit of a Rocker with jobbing-musicians Jimmy Page and John-Paul Jones giving it some in the background while the Soul Boys and Gals bring up "Friday Night" (O'Jays), "I Can't Remember Ever Loving You" (Tammy Grimes) and and a wonderful Northern Soul and Phil Spector feel to "Somebody's Waiting" (Gene McDaniels).

Odd - musical - and yet somehow thoroughly satisfying – 2008’s "On Vine Street: The Early Songs Of Randy Newman" is a very cool CD. Hats off to Ace and its compiler crew once again...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

"...You Promised..." - Gifted - A Review of the 2017 Movie now on DVD and BLU RAY...

"Gifted" - The Film

Sure its clunky and even clichéd in places - but having just come from the cinema - "Gifted" is also a rather lovely and moving little film. It's helped in no small part by a great script from Tom Flynn, an uncluttered direction from Marc Webb and most especially - fabulous leads who don't waste a moment of what they know is a sweetheart of a movie.

Chris Evans wisely steps out of that clean-cut Captain America persona, peels back the macho and actually acts. And he's good when he does - hugely likeable - and as some of the film's early jokes involving teachers at his daughter's school and ladies at the local bar indicate - in his ah-shucks teeshirt and disheveled beard - kind of cute eye-candy too.

Evans plays Frank Adler - a freelance boat-repairer living in a modest Florida home - rearing what appears at first to be his very precocious seven-year old daughter Mary. Mary questions everything (Latin in the English language, the validity of breakfast cereals, just who is this git God) and wants the answers right now and as a caveat – they should make sense too. But on the first day at school - Mary's combative nature comes out to a point where she feels 'odd' with the other kids - something she's dreaded – hence her thinly disguised defensiveness. And there's something else. It turns out Mary's a whizz at Maths. In fact not just a human calculator but also a genius - a gifted prodigy who is down with calculus, advanced algebra and differential equations when the other innocents are struggling with three plus three.

It doesn’t go unnoticed. Mary's young and kind-hearted teacher Bonnie Stevenson (a luminous Jenny Slate) is determined to talk to Dad Frank after class - and of course beneath the parent-teacher patter - sparks are ignited. They date quietly (not that Mary doesn’t spot the exit from a bathroom in a towel) and Bonnie learns more. It turns out that Frank is the brother of Mary's mum Diane Adler - who was also a troubled Math’s genius who couldn't take the oddity, the fame, and the pressure to prove a hugely difficult theory most professional Mathematicians wouldn't go near with a barge pole. Physically and emotionally stifled and somehow feeling she is a mentally frazzled and unworthy mum – Diane tragically ended her life at 27 leaving Frank with a niece/daughter to raise (the child’s real Dad has always been absent from her upbringing and cruelly it turns out that's just fine by him).

Enter Lindsay Duncan as Mary's prim-and-proper British Grandmother Evelyn (Diane's Mum) who lives in a wealthy and just-so residence in Massachusetts – the exact physical and mental opposite to loose-living Frank. Determined to raise the 7-year old Mary and unleash her obvious and awesome potential – unfortunately for the close bond between Frank and Mary - the points Evelyn raises don't just make sense but may well be the right thing to do for the child - and deep down Dad-Frank knows this. But Frank just wants Mary to have a normal life (as per mum's instructions) and even have (God forbid) some fun en route. Aunty has other ideas and enlists expensive lawyer types to apply some brutal but what she sees as necessary tough-love. Frank hires the street-savvy but humane Greg Cullen as his attorney - subtly played by a superb Glenn Plummer. Trouble brews, stews and boils over...and on it goes...

This is the best I've ever seen Lindsay Duncan because she's given a script of real meat. Her reasoning and sparring with Evans is both contained and realistic and her intellectual moneyed tantrum in a courtroom would cram more ice into an already stuffed refrigerator. Octavia Spencer adds gravitas too as the ever-present neighbour Roberta who loves Mary and her one-eyed cat Fred with a passion - but can't raise her because in the eyes of the law - the child is not her blood. But the whole movie is stolen by an astonishing performance from 11-year old McKenna Grace who already has a resume that would make your eyes bleed. She's vulnerable, funny, smart-assed, childish, wise (the scenes between her and Evans will reduce most to inner mush) and when it comes to key sequences later in the movie – this young actress reduced the audience I was with to tears and audible sobs. She's Saoirse Ronan good and that's really saying something...

Don't get me wrong. "Gifted" is not a relentless broken-family weepy that taps your emotions like a lump-hammer for the sake of it (even though it does resort to obvious filmic tricks in certain places – especially the choices of powerful and moving songs). But "Gifted" has that rare thing nowadays - a heart - a calmness even - and it reaffirms the power of family and love with a gentle grace that washes over you like a warm breeze and sunlight on water. And for once there's genuine believable chemistry between every single member of the cast (even the minor parts are beautifully realised and therefore ultimately believable). I liked it a lot and I suspect millions of other people will feel exactly the same.

Well done to all involved with "Gifted" and recommended big time.

Just remember to bring the face wipes with you to the cinema - and after it’s done - be prepared to want to hug your children with all the might you can physically muster...