Saturday, 27 August 2016

"Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One/Bird On A Wire" by TIM HARDIN (1999/2009 Beat Goes On 2LPs onto 1CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Will We Ever Run Free Of Those Worldly Wantings?"

This is a moving and at times frustrating release for an artist who engendered both emotions - Oregon's TIM HARDIN.

It's also a tale of two cities - an experimental navel-gazing heart-on-your-emotional-sleeve concept album from 1969 that some have praised as a second "Astral Weeks" while others have labelled "Suite For Susan Moore..." as utter knob and self-indulgent drivel - sat alongside a far more accessible and commercial album from 1971 called "Bird On A Wire" (after a Leonard Cohen cover version) - itself a sort of Soulful singer-songwriter return to form. I'm down with both opinions. Whatever you say about Tim Hardin - he and his music was never anything less than interesting. Here are the satisfied minds...

UK released November 1999 (reissued October 2009) - "Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One/Bird On A Wire" by TIM HARDIN on Beat Goes On BGOCD 470 (Barcode 5017251204707) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (78:53 minutes):

Implication I: [Side 1]
1. First Love Song
2. Everything Good Become More True
Implication II:
3. Question Of Birth
4. Once-Touched By Flame
5. Last Sweet Moments
Implication III: [Side 2]
6. Magician
7. Loneliness She Knows
End Of Implication:
8. The Country I'm Living In
9. One, One, The Perfect Sum
10. Susan
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 5th album "Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One" - released April 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9787 (Stereo) and May 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63571 (Stereo).

11. Bird On The Wire [Side 1]
12. Moonshine
13. Southern Butterfly
14. A Satisfied Mind
15. Soft Summer Breeze
16. Hoboin' [Side 2]
17. Georgia On My Mind
18. Andre Johray
19. If I Knew
20. Love Hymn
Tracks 11 to 20 are his 6th album "Bird On A Wire" - released June 1971 in the USA on Columbia C 30551 and August 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64335

The 8-page booklet features a short but very informative essay on the mad troubadour by COLIN IRWIN as well as the inner artwork to "Suite" and the huge session-musician list for "Bird". That 'crazy man' photo of Hardin and an Eagle that graced the rear of "Suite" is used as the inlay beneath the see-through CD tray and the statuesque picture of Susan Moore graces the last page. It doesn't say who remastered what or where - but the sound is gorgeous - especially for the notoriously quiet passages of "Suite". A track like the acoustic Folk of “The Country I’m Living In” and the simple plinking of an electric piano on “Everything Good Become More True” have tiny amounts of natural hiss - but are never too intrusive or overbearing. A nice job done...

The silly title gives you an indication - a stream of consciousness - contemplation on the 'implications' of relationships - or that Tim loves Susan so much he might just have to marry the broad. I have a love/hate relationship with this album - at times the spoken tracks like "Question Of Birth", "Loneliness She Knows" and "Susan" with lyrics like "...we cannot choose to come or not to come..." or "...if understood the meaning has no meaning..." don't offer explanations on life or love - but instead give you a stream of what feels like therapy psychobabble that doesn't stand up to any real scrutiny. But then there are moments too like the straight-up passion of "First Love Song", "Last Sweet Memory" and "Once-Touched By Flame" where this album dips into the realms of magical - simple and moving. It's an album of both hues...

1971's more polished and accomplished "Bird On A Wire" LP opens with the first of four cover versions sat alongside six new Tim Hardin originals. The 28 session players make it seem like a roll call for a Soul or Jazz Fusion album - included names like Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous of Weather Report, Bassists Tony Levin and “Pops” Popwell of The Crusaders, Guitar virtuosos like Ralph Towner alongside Keyboard people like Warren Bernhardt and Paul Hornsby. But the music is more Rock with a Soulful tinge as evidenced the moment you play his almost Gospel take on Leonard Cohen's "Bird On The Wire" (originally on his 1969 LP "Songs From A Room"). His voice is more noticeably ragged - like a man on his last legs - his drug dependency showing. "Moonshiner" is a Traditional but again his voice and the sweet keyboards make it feel like a broken down Tim Hardin song. "Southern Butterfly" is oddly hissy (the first of his original songs) but lifted out of the ordinary by beautiful string and horn arrangements from Ed Freeman. Written by noted Fiddle player Joe Hayes and his pal Jack Rhodes - "A Satisfied Mind" features the Pedal Steel Guitar of Bill Keith and The Canby Singers giving it some choir-like backing vocals.  We get Funky with "Soft Summer Breeze" - a very cool groove which acted as the flipside to the album's only American 45 on Columbia 45426 in August 1971 (the LP's title track was on the A - it didn't chart). 

Side 2 opens with the almost Crusaders/Meters funky groove of "Hoboin'" where Tim tells us that he 'took a freight train to be my only friend' and 'I took it everywhere...' We return to covers with Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind" - the famous song Jazzed up by Joe Zawinul's classy keyboard touches - what a sweet vibe this version is. "Andrey Johray" starts out with "Suite For Susan Moore..." dialogue about good and evil and lost highway children whove become famous - it's a 'know thyself' parable from Tim - a supercool gentle song that hankers back to that 1969 experiment. "...Will we ever run free of those worldly wantings..." he pleads - when deep at the heart of the song is a plea to himself and his friend to do something about their respective self-destructive addictions. Things mellow down with the lovely "If I Knew" - a song I play a lot - gorgeous tune. "Love Hymn' ends a classy but overlooked album on a 'so beautiful' up-note. Nice...

While I would never cite "Suite For Susan Moore..." as some undiscovered masterpiece the great unwashed need alongside their eggs and chips - there are times when I find it magical like a Fred Neil album or a Roy Harper LP. And just sometimes when I'm grooving to the simply Folk Rock beauty of say "Last Sweet Moments" as those vibes ping and that Harmonica soothes - this is the kind of album you 'need' to hear every now and then - an enchanting record that could never get made in 2016 (more's the pity).

Trippy, heartfelt, honest, soulful and as mad as a Psychotherapist at a Donald Trump drug-tasting convention - this pairing of Tim Hardin's 1969 and 1971 albums offers us music lovers two overlooked pieces - both brilliant in their own flawed and haggard ways. A sort of stormy sadness...recommended...

Friday, 26 August 2016

"Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition 2CD Version" by THE JAM (2014 Universal/Polydor 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...No Match For Their Untamed Wit..."

How do you follow something as beloved as 1978's "All Mod Cons"? You do it with 1979's "Setting Sons" that along with The Clash's "London Calling" probably represent Britain's Punk and New Wave period at its snotty full-throated working-class best. And as a nice boy from a nice part of Dublin - I'm down with that Mister Smithers-Jones (The Jam were huge in Ireland)...

Unfortunately like others who bought and loved the glorious embossed original vinyl LP (Polydor POLD 5028) back in the heady end-of-a-decade days of November 1979 - this December 2014 Universal/Polydor 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' feels like a hamburger instead of a steak. I think a lot of it has to do with the presentation of these newer 'Deluxe Editions' that are minus the plastic slipcases that came with the older variants (gave them a bit of class and the easy-to-crumple digipak within some much-needed protection). But like the "Some Girls" Deluxe Edition from The Rolling Stones which completely wrecked fabulous original artwork (with an equally crappy and costly Uber DE edition to fleece fans) – this one screws up the artwork too and the flimsy exposed card digipak  doesn't do this 4th 'DE' for The Jam any favours either.

Having said all that and whinged like a big girl's blouse - there's good here too. The new 2014 remasters are superb, Pat Gilbert's new liner notes explain the LP's impact really well and the pictured fan memorabilia is impressively in-depth. And on the bonus front you forget just how good those stand-alone 45s were (both sides) and The Jam live is a quite awesome thing to behold (even it this BBC stuff as been released before). Time for some embossed details of our own methinks – let's get to the missing bulldogs and added deckchairs...

UK released December 2014 - "Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition 2CD Version" by THE JAM on Universal/Polydor 0602537946952 (Barcode 602537946952) is a 2-Disc Reissue/Remaster and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (58:00 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. Thick As Thieves
3. Private Hell
4. Little Boy Soldiers
5. Wasteland
6. Burning Sky
7. Smithers-Jones
8. Saturday's Kids
9. The Eton Rifles
10. Heat Wave
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 4th studio album "Setting Sons" - released November 1979 in the UK on Polydor POLD 5028 and in the USA on Polydor SD 6249 - Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven - it peaked at No. 4 on the UK LP charts (didn't chart in the USA).

BONUS TRACKS - The Singles & B-Sides:
11. Strange Town
12. The Butterfly Collector
Tracks 11 and 12 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 6th UK 7" single released 9 March 1979 on Polydor POSP 34 (peaked at No. 15)
13. When You're Young
14. Smithers-Jones (Single Version)
Tracks 13 and 14 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 7th UK 7" single released 7 August 1979 on Polydor POSP 69 (peaked at No. 17)
15. The Eton Rifles (Single Version)
16. See-Saw
Tracks 15 and 16 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 8th UK 7" single released 26 October 1979 on Polydor POSP 83 (peaked at No. 3)
17. Going Underground
18. Dreams Of Children
Tracks 17 and 18 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 9th UK 7" single released 14 March 1980 on Polydor POSP 113 (peaked at No. 1)

Disc 2 - Live At The Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, December 1979 (59:08 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. To Be Someone
3. It's Too Bad
4. Burning Sky
5. Away With The Numbers
6. Smithers-Jones
7. The Modern World
8. Mr. Clean
9. The Butterfly Collector
10. Private Hell
11. Thick As Thieves
12. When You're Young
13. Strange Town
14. The Eton Rifles
15. Down At The Tube Station At Midnight
16. Saturday's Kids
17. All Mod Cons
18. David Watts

THE JAM was:
PAUL WELLER - Lead Vocals, Guitar and Principal Songwriter
BRUCE FOXTON - Bass (wrote "Smithers-Jones", all others by Weller)

MICK TALBOT - Future Style Council partner for Paul Weller is credited as "Merton Mick" and plays Piano on “Heat Wave”
RUDI - Saxophone on “Heat Wave”

The 24-page booklet tries hard to impress - a centre 2-page spread of concert tickets from the Oakland Auditorium in San Francisco in late April 1979 to the unbridled luxury of the Bridlington Spa in November of that Jam-momentous year. There are trade adverts, NME repros, WORDS magazine covers and other depicted memorabilia alongside some live photos. But every one of the flaps is covered in blurred concert photos that have been colour-tinted and look awful and the Red and Blue CDs themselves with a 'Bulldog' face don't impress much nor resemble the LP - and the Bulldog/Deckchair is missing from the back sleeve. The Inner sleeve that came with original British LPs is bizarrely AWOL and it doesn't seem to occur to anyone to provide basic catalogue numbers for anything like I've done above (and don't get me started on the cost of the desirable but extortionate Uber Deluxe Edition). Still - Pat Gilbert's new liner notes give insights into the sheer pressure Weller was under to top "All Mod Cons" and cement their huge and growing popularity and he gets behind the sheer Britishness of the band and the LP's music - how these angry young working-class men were angry at everything - especially the heartless Establishment of the day - and thereby put a single as physically violent as "The Eton Rifles" up to No. 3. And it does sound better...

I've had the "Direction" box set from 1997 and to my ears there's an improvement with these new KEIRON McGARRY Remasters - and those Bonus Single Sides tagged onto Disc 1 pretty much make it essential in any man's books. I don't have the BBC Sessions stuff so the Live Concert on Disc 2 is new to me. I like it - especially lesser-heard tracks like "The Butterfly Collector" and a storming rant through "Mr. Clean" (from "All Mod Cons"). But you'd have to say immediately - what is there here that would tempt a true fan who has purchased all of this before (docked a star for that)?

There's amazing punch in both "Girl On The Phone" and the stunning "Thick As Thieves" - both walloping your speakers as Paul Weller spits out "...says she knows everything about me..." and "...times are so tough...but not as tough as they are now..." (lets not mention the size of Paul's appendage as he does on the "Girl On The Phone" track). The sheer sonic wallop of "Private Hell" is thrilling - as thrashing as I remember it - and the words just as harrowing and locked into the reality of city living in an unemployed England town - singing about an unrecognisable junkie girl lost in their "Private Hell". When the in-yo-face "Eton Rifles" climbed to No 3 on the back of a Top Of The Pops appearance - the album arrived a fortnight later and didn't disappoint with tracks like the unemployed boys and girls holding hands in "Wasteland" and the equally disarming "Little Boy Soldiers" where Weller rages about picking up a gun to shoot a stranger for Queen and Country because you're a "...blessed son of the British Empire..."

Side 2 opens with a "...taxman shouting because he wants his dough..." in the attacking "Burning Sky" that's followed by Foxton's lone contribution and genuine moment of glory - "Smithers-Jones". The single version we're so used to hearing dropped the strings of the album mix - upped the Bass and plucked guitar notes - but I'm a fan of both versions. "Saturday's Kids" drinks lots of beer and work (if they can) down at Woolworths and Tesco's - dreaming of the Mod weekend and the dancehall (and probably seeing The Jam). I've always thought that their storming cover of the Martha and The Vandellas Motown hit "Heat Wave" is the most fantastic version and somehow bookends an angry LP with a moment of upbeat hope (Rudi on Saxophone).

The Bonus Singles throw Disc 1 into superstar territory. I'm fond of "Strange Town" but I'm always drawn to its brilliant flipside "The Butterfly Collector". I can vividly remember playing this side of the Polydor 45 much more than the A. Both the Single Version of "Smithers-Jones" and the Single Edit of "The Eton Rifles" are friggin' genius - but again your heart goes out to the fab B-side "See Saw" which Weller gave to the Glasgow Mod Band THE JOLT who put it onto Side 2 of their 4-Track "Maybe Tonight" EP on Polydor 2229 215 in June 1979 (a huge collectable piece ever since). As if that's not enough - Disc 1 ends on the undeniable brilliance of "Going Underground" backed with the equally cool "The Dreams Of Children". Both rightly took the No. 1 spot in March 1980 - the first of four number ones for this most British of bands.

True fans will probably feel peeved as their computer's access the Gracenote Name database only to be told that Disc 2 of this supposedly new 2014 Deluxe Edition is called 'At The BBC - At The Rainbow' - Disc 3 of the June 2002 3CD set "The Jam At The BBC" - in other words material that's already been released.  Well at least its newly remastered making killer tracks like "To Be Someone" feel 'huge' and less muddied than before. People who invested money in 'that film' get a ribbing in the acidic "Mr. Clean" - the crowd secretly loving it when Weller says I'll 'nice' up your life. The gig is not audiophile for sure but it captures the raw power of the band in front of a devoted crowd and has you nodding at the quality of song after song.

I suppose there are two ways of looking at this 2014 DE - for fans it's a pain and apart from the improved Audio - something of a pointless exercise. But I'd say get past the naff packaging and concentrate on the music - The Jam in all their working-man's glory. Weller would go onto The Style Council and Solo glory and has pretty much remained at the top of his musical game every since - each release still awaited with an excitement this band engendered almost 40 years ago.

"...Saturday kids play one-armed bandits...they never win...but that's not the point is it..." - Paul Weller sang on "Saturday's Kids" way back in 1979. It seems that in 2016 - not a lot has changed when it comes to reissues for fans. We're still at the grubby hands of fruit machine vendors...

"Sings The Blues" by ROOSEVELT SYKES (2006 Ace Hip-Pocket CD Remaster In Repro Card Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Out On A Limb..." 

"Sings The Blues" is part of Ace Records 'HIP POCKET' series - 5" Card Repro sleeves of rare and iconic albums from across many genres (see list below).

This November 2006 CD reissue of "Sings The Blues" by ROOSEVELT SYKES on Ace CDCHM 1132 (Barcode 029667022521) replicates that ultra-rare US-only 1962 album on Crown Records CLP 5287.

1. Slave For Your Love
2. Gone With The Wind
3. Wild Side
4. Out On A Limb
5. Honey Child
6. Never Loved Like This Before [Side 2]
7. Last Chance
8. Casual Friend
9. Your Will Is Mine
10. Hup Dupe Do

It's a proper remaster (doesn't say who remastered it - probably NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering) from the original analogue tapes (25: 45 minutes) and the Audio is SUPERB - loud and clear - a typically brill job done by one of Britain's truly great re-issue labels.

The band for the album consisted of:
ROOSEVELT "The Honeydripper" SYKES on Piano
OETT "Sax" MALLARD on Saxophone
WILLIE DIXON on Upright Bass
ARMAND "Jump" JACKSON on Drums

Playing the Chicago Blues on his Piano since 1929 - Roosevelt Sykes wasn't exactly a spring chicken in the summer of 1962 - but his age imbibed the renditions with a genuine 'real deal' feel. The music is slow piano-based blues with a slight New Orleans twist on some of the tracks - a sort of harder version of Fat Domino. 

"Slave For Love" (1), "Out On A Limb" (4) and "Honey Child" (5) are Roosevelt "The Honeydripper" Sykes originals – while "Gone With The Wind" (2), "Wild Side" (3), "Never Loved Like This Before" (6), "Last Chance" (7), "Casual Friend" (8), "Your Will Is Mine" (9) and "Hupe Dupe Do" (10) are co-written with JOE JOSEA.

It doesn't say who played the excellent guitar work on "Gone With The Wind", "Out On A Limb" and especially "Casual Friend" - but it's all ‘so’ good. And I love that atmospheric 'Beale Street' artwork with its original JOE TAUBLING liner notes on the rear (June 1962).

I picked up my copy from the wonderful independent record shop SISTER RAY on Berwick Street in London for a fiver. A very cool reissue in its skinny-minnie 6" repro card sleeve. 

"Sings The Blues" is great Chicago Piano Blues you will want in your hipster's pocket...

                       Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)

"Cross Cuts" by THE (COUNT) BISHOPS (2005 Ace/Chiswick 'Hip Pocket' CD Reissue/Remaster In Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I Want Candy..." 

I hate the way some great bands just kind of get sidelined - chucked in the pile marked 'interesting' but not quite Carling. The Count Bishops have always seemed to fit that bill. But I'd argue that like The Sex Pistols - they burned 'so' brightly for a short period of time - leaving behind a staggering legacy we're still feeling in (Hot) August 2016. That and they were blindingly great fun...

Riding on the 1975 shirt-tails of other dynamic retro R 'n' B Pub Rock bands like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe - THE COUNT BISHOPS inaugurating the wonderful Chiswick Label with their incendiary "Speedball" EP in November of that year (Chiswick SW 1) - four storming cover versions that like the Lee Brilleaux/Wilko Johnson Dr. Feelgood's invasion of out hearts in 1975 and 1976 - felt new and fresh.

For me their April 1977 debut album "The Count Bishops" on Chiswick WIK 1 (the label's first LP) straddles that divide between Punk and New Wave. The Dutch album "Good Gear" followed on the Dynamo label and a further Chiswick 10" Mini-LP now trading as simply The Bishops - "The Bishops Live At The Roundhouse" in April 1978 on Chiswick CH 7. Which brings us to their forgotten and unfairly forlorn (too many f's baby) "Cross Cuts" album from 1979 - their last studio set released just after Zenon De Fleur's horrible loss in a car crash (March 1979) – just when the band was poised to make a real breakthrough with the their fantastic cover of "I Want Candy".

And that's where this fab and dinky Ace records 'Hip Pocket' CD reissue/remaster comes storming in. Here are the speedy details...

UK released June 2005 - "Cross Cuts" by THE BISHOPS on Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256 (Barcode 029667425629) is part of Ace's 'Hip Pocket' CD Reissue Series (see list below) and is a straightforward CD transfer of their 14-track 1979 album in a Card Sleeve Repro and plays out as follows (37:13 minutes):

1. I Take What I Want
2. Could You Would You
3. What's Your Number
4. Your Daddy Don't Mind
5. Good Times
6. Too Much, Too Soon
7. Rolling Man
8. I Want Candy [Side 2]
9.  Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
10. Hands On The Wheel
11. Don't Start Me Talking
12. These Arms Of Mine
13. No Lies
14. Mr. Jones
Tracks 1 to 14 are their 4th and final album "Cross Cuts" - released June 1979 in the UK on Chiswick CWK 3009 (no US release).

DAVE TICE – Lead Vocals and Harmonica
ZENON DE FLEUR (real name Zenon Hierowski) – Guitars and Backing Vocals

Admittedly the card sleeve isn't much to get your knickers in a knot about – much like the rather dull album artwork of the original LP. In fact the reduced details on the rear cover are nigh on impossible to read – but all that pales once you clap your tired lugs on the NICK ROBBINS Remaster which goes for the ballsack and pretty much stays there. This album sounds alive and fresh again...

Opening with a cover of a Stax hit "I Take What I Want" written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter for Sam and Dave (Stax S-175 in August 1965) – they decide to do with the song what Rory Gallagher did in October 1975 on his first album for Chrysalis Records "Against The Grain" – rock it out. This time they're more Wilko Johnson that Mississippi Delta slide. "Could You Would You" is an old Van Morrison Them song from their second platter "Them Again" in 1968 that American street charmer Willy DeVille covered for his 1988 "Miracle" album. In fact I'd swear naughty Willy lifted the Bishops' slightly Latin treatment of it wholesale for his DDD version with Mark Knopfler on Guitar. After that brief pace let up - we pop some not-fat speed and launch straight into Dave Rice's fantastic rocker "What's Your Number" which sounds like Lee Brilleaux fronting Dr. Feelgood with everything ramped to 13 on a 12-gauge speed dial. Dig that growling vocal, those riffing guitars and cool harmonica. Dave Rice and Zenon De Fleur contributed the wickedly infectious slide guitar boogie of "Your Daddy Don't Mind" where the boys convince us that pops won't mind if his daughter stays out late tonight. Both Cliff Bennett and The Easybeats had a go at Harry Vanda and George Young's bopper "Good Times" in 1968 on United Artists and Parlophone Records respectively. The Bishops keep their cover tight but choppy - piano rolls punctuating a great backbeat whilst having one eye on the single's market. But far better is an original from Dave Rice and Drummer Paul Balbi - the brilliant rocker "Too Much, Too Soon" - the kind of boogie blast that crosses Rock 'n' Roll and New Wave with ease (what a 45 this would have made). Side 1 ends with a superb Zenon De Fleur slide-guitar chugger - "Rolling Man" - the kind of beast that hooks you right from the get go and keeps you there with great guitar and crafty Harmonica hooks.

Side 2 opens with the fabulous raucous riffage of "I Want Candy" - originally a hit for The Strangeloves on Bang B-501 in May 1965 - though it's safe to say that most young men remember lusting after Annabella Lwin in Bow Wow Wow when they covered it in 1982 on RCA Records. The Bishops get that 60ts anarchy just right - a superb update of a neglected monster (I still have my 6" sized 45 with its picture sleeve on Chiswick 6 CHIS 101). That's followed by bizarre-covers ahoy - the Bishops going after a totally forgotten Fleetwood Mac song delightfully called "Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight" - a non-album B-side to "Man Of The World" on Immediate IM 080 in April 1969 (written by one of the band's guitarists Jeremy Spencer). It's drunken violence suits their 'get them out of their seats' Pub Rock attack. "Hands On The Wheel" is another quality rocker from Dave Rice and Zenon De Fleur while their signifying cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson Chess nugget "Don't Start Me Talking" has been done by everybody from Etta James, Dr. Feelgood and Mountain's Leslie West. The boys then discover their inner Stax by covering Otis Redding's hurting "These Arms Of Mine" - but things return to normal with Rice and De Fleur's "No Lies" - an almost poppy Nick Lowe tune. This excellent album ends with a cover of John Loudermilk's witty and saucy "Mr. Jones" which Chiswick tried as a British 45 in May 1979 (Chiswick CHIS 1111) but it didn't take.  

Given the strength of their material and especially their formidable live reputation as a band that slaughtered all put before them - it seems inexplicable to me even now that THE BISHOPS never charted anything - 45 or LP - drowned out by Punk and bigger New Wave names. Dull artwork - bad timing - cruel breaks - whatever it was - I think its time to reappraise. Like The Feelgoods, The Clash, The Pistols and The Damned – The Bishops lit up our world and I will always love them for that.

"I Want Candy" they sang in 1979. Well (pun intended) count me in...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

"Street Corner Symphonies Volume 10: 1958" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2012 Bear Family CD – Marcus Heumann Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I Want To Have You Near...But You're So Far Away..."

Hot on the heels of their definitive "Blowing The Fuse" and "Sweet Soul Music" CD Series (15 volumes to each genre of R'n'B and Soul) comes Bear Family’s Vocal Group attack - 15 discs spanning 1939 to 1963. Volumes 1 to 10 hit the shops in 2012 and the last five in the spring of 2013. And while critics will argue that Vocal Group music has already been done to death by Rhino (3 x 4CD Box Sets across the decades) and a mountain of other cheapo labels taking advantage of the 50-year copyright law - this is the first time someone reputable (other than Rhino) have had a go - and typically these German-issued Bear Family CDs are gorgeous in all the right places - presentation and audio. And like its Volume 9 predecessor – Volume 10 has a huge 34 tracks and a format-busting playing time of 87:38 minutes! Let's march (not walk) 'Down The Aisle Of Love'...and have a 'Rama Lama Ding Dong' (if you know what I mean)...

Released October 2012 in Germany - "Street Corner Symphonies Volume 10: 1958" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Bear Family BCD 17288 AR (Barcode 4000127172884) breaks down as follows (I've provided American single catalogue numbers on all tracks - 87:38 minutes):

1. 16 Candles – THE CRESTS (Coed 506, A)
2. Lama Rama Ding Dong (aka Rama Lama Ding Dong) – THE EDSELS (Dub 2843, A)
3. For Your Precious Love – JERRY BUTLER and THE IMPRESSIONS (Vee-Jay 280/Falcon 1013/Abner 1013, A)
4. I Wonder Why – DION & THE BELMONTS (Laurie 3013, A)
5. Tears On My Pillow – LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS (End 1027, A)
6. So Fine – THE FIESTAS (Old Town 1062, A)
7. One Summer Night – THE DANLEERS (Amp 3 2115/Mercury 71322, A)
8. Stormy Weather – THE SPANIELS (Vee-Jay 290, A)
9. I Love You So – THE CHANTELS (End 1020, A)
10. Trickle, Trickle – THE VIDEOS (Casino 102, A)
11. This Is The Nite – THE VALIANTS (Keen 34044, A)
12. Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart – THE COASTERS (Atco 6116, A)
13. Drip Drop – THE DRIFTERS (Atlantic 1187, A)
14. Ten Commandments Of Love – HARVEY and THE MOONGLOWS (chess 1705, A)
15. Little Star – THE ELEGANTS (Apt 25005, A)
16. Pretty Girls Everywhere – EUGENE CHURCH and THE FELLOWS (Class 235, A)
17. You Cheated – THE SHIELDS (Tender 513/Dot 15805, A)
18. Western Movies – THE OLYMPICS (Demon 1508, A)
19. Try Me (I Need You) – JAMES BROWN and THE FAMOUS FLAMES (Federal 12337, A)
20. There's A Moon Out Tonight – THE CAPRIS (Planet 1010/Old Town 1094, A)
21. Lovers Never Say Goodbye – THE FLAMINGOS (End 1035, A)
22. No, No, No – THE CHANTERS (DeLuxe 6177, A)
23. So Far Away – THE PASTELS (Argo 5314, A)
24. Heart's Desire – THE AVALONS (Unart 2007, A)
25. Down The Aisle Of Love – THE QUIN-TONES (Red Top 108/Hunt 321, A)
26. Since I Don't Have You – THE SKYLINERS (Calico 103, A)
27. Try The Impossible – LEE ANDREWS and THE HEARTS with The Panco Villa Orchestra (United Artists 123, A)
28. I'm So Young – THE STUDENTS (Arranged and Conducted by Jimmy Coe) (Note 10012/Checker 902, A)
29. Here I Stand – WADE FLEMONS and THE NEWCOMERS (Vee-Jay 295, A)
30. Teardrops On Your Letter – HANK BALLARD and THE MIDNIGHTERS (King 5171, A)
31. Zoom Zoom Zoom – THE COLLEGIANS (Winley 224, A)
32. The Things I Love – THE FIDELITY’S (Baton 252, A)
33. I Met Him On A Sunday (Ronde-Ronde) – THE SHIRELLES (Tiara 6112/Decca 30588, A)
34. Oh Gee, Oh Gosh – THE KODOKS featuring Pearl McKinnon (Fury 1015, A)

The 82-page non-detachable booklet is a feast of indepth liner notes on each release by Grammy-winning writer and lifelong fan BILL DAHL. Let's put it this way - there's a 'Photo Captions' index on Page 81 that tells who's who in the black and white publicity shots that accompany most (not all) of the photos. It actually lists the singer's names  - who else but Bear would do this? There are a few cool trade adverts from 1958 peppering the text (The Collegians on Winley and The Students on Checker) and three of those rare American 45 labels are pictured (Casino, Keen and Checker). The CD repros the rare "One Summer Night" by The Danleers and the spine makes up a single photograph of the series name when you line up all 15 volumes alongside each other on a shelf. Long-standing and trusted names like Walter DeVenne, Nico Feuerbach, Victor Pearlin and Billy Vera have been involved in the research while Audio Engineer MARCUS HEUMANN did the superb mastering. The sources (as you can imagine) differ wildly but to my ears the sound quality is improved on everything that I've heard before (including some of the Rhino box sets). The audio and presentation are top-class here (a norm for Bear Family)...

1958 continued on from 1957 in being a pivotal year in Vocal Group history - hitting something of a pinnacle – beautiful ballads and cracking dancers combining to make this CD a wonderful overall listen (and all of it in top audio quality). In fact if I was pushed – and in terms of sheer vocal beauty/fun - I would say that both Volume 9 for 1957 and this Volume 10 set for 1958 are the compilation jewels in the crown for the entire "Street Corner Symphonies" run of 15 titles.

We open with blushing teenage romance - the gorgeous "16 Candles" by The Crests where Lead Singer Johnny Maestro croons his way into millions of American hearts (real name John Mastrangelo). The first bopper "Lama Rama Ding Dong" by The Edsels has great audio – very clean. We then enter the realms of musical magnificence and genre history – the Soulful vocals of Jerry Butler and The Impressions doing the immortal "For Your Precious Love" where the song blurs the lines between Vocal Group Music and early Soul – what a tune and its still moving to. Another reviewer is claiming that this is a wrong version to the May 1958 take on Vee-Jay - but I can't hear a difference between this and the Rhino box set inclusion (which is the 1958 Mono original). Maybe the initial mistake has been spotted and its been replaced? Back to fun with the brilliant "I Wonder Why" by Dion & The Belmonts – a fabulous slice of New York Street Corner bopping magic. Smooch-city returns with everyone's favourite balladeer – Little Anthony – telling us that " is not a is not a toy..." in the American Graffiti atmospheric "Tears On My Pillow". There is a tender sweetness to "So Fine" by The Fiestas – an Old Town classic that sounds gorgeous here. Romance returns with "One Summer Night" by The Danleers – the kind of tune where you can just see the cars cruising the strip as the boys look out longingly at the girls they can’t reach.

While the Chantels is good - genuine magic hits your lugs with the impossibly rare "Trickle, Trickle" by The Videos who contained future members of Shep & The Limelites. It’s more bopping R 'n' B than Vocal Group but what a winner it is (the rare Casino 102 American 45 is reproduced on Page 26 of the booklet – the song was covered and charted by Manhattan Transfer in 1980). Genius inclusion and wicked unknown vocalists ahoy with "This Is The Nite" by The Valiants - where Lead Singer Billy Jones (aka Billy Spicer) does his best Clyde McPhatter impression and more than pulls it off (fabulous stuff). The audio leaps forward with "Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart" by The Coasters – it features two superb Leads – the deep as an ocean Bass of Will 'Dub' Jones (formerly with The Cadets and The Jacks) and Lean Tenor Cornel Gunter (ex The Flairs). It's craftily followed by a tune every Drifters fan adores – "Drip Drop" - bopping R 'n' B sung by Bobby Kendricks – a dead ringer for Clyde McPhatter's vocal style.

Romance returns in different paces – the sombre talking lurch of "Ten Commandments Of Love" by Harvey and The Moonglows and the very Dion & The Belmont sounding "Little Star" by The Elegants. After all that pleading it's time for fun as Eugene Church tells us that no matter where he looks (roads, beaches or parks) there's "Pretty Girls Everywhere" (I feel for the poor guy). Beautiful and rare – "You Cheated" by The Shields features Frankie Ervin on Lead Vocals and is a gem on this CD collectors will love having. The witty and catchy "Western Movies" by The Olympics sung by Walter Ward and resplendent with gunshots and Wild West references sounds like a Lieber/Stoller classic but was written by two lesser-known talents - Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith. It was a smash in June 1958 and has turned up on compilations ever since. We don't normally associate James Brown with the genre but his "Try Me" pleading vocal and the song's roots in Vocal Group classics warrants a tasty inclusion here. A duo of classics follow – "There's A Moon Out Tonight" by The Capris and the truly beautiful Flamingos End label gem "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" - dripping with atmosphere and romance, both are beloved by collectors.

Time to pick up the pace with a bopper "No, No, No" - where a very young sounding sets of lads The Chanters don’t want to be "kissed anymore" by girls but then say "yes, yes, yes" immediately after their denial (the poor dears are confused). Genius inclusion comes with the gobsmacking beauty of "So Far Away" by The Pastels where Lead Vocalist Di Fosco Ervin, Jr. combines his pleading with a wonderful almost operatic set of female backing vocalists. The result is this October 1958 masterpiece on Argo 5314 – the kind of massively evocative song that would stop you in your tracks if it sailed out of a radio. More smoochers are provided by Hank Ballard, The Fidelity’s and the lesser-known Wade Flemons - with the whole shebang ending on a bopper – the innocent sounding "Oh Gee, Oh Gosh" where cute Pearl McKinnon sounds not unlike Frankie Lymon backed by a rocking Teenagers. To sum up – I have to say playing this compilation has been a joy. Evocative, moving and damn it – fun.

Niggles - they're too expensive as singles discs and perhaps they should have been doubles because real collectors will have more than a few titles on offer here. Bear Family will argue 'but not in this sound quality or presentation' - and they'd have a point.

Presented to us with love and affection by a company that cares about forgotten voices that shouldn’t be forgotten. What a sweetheart of a compilation and another gold standard from Bear...

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