Thursday, 13 August 2015

"Keep A Hold On Him! More Garpax Girls" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2015 Ace Records CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Shoes And Rice And Paradise..."

In May 2004 Ace Records of the UK released their first CD dealing with Producer GARY S PAXTON and his plethora of Sixties Girl Groups on his Garpax Label (none of which charted) – it was called "Boy Trouble: Garpax Girls" (Ace CDCHD 1005). Eleven years later we now get "Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls" – a second volume concentrating on his earlier 1960-1964 recordings – most with an R&B slant.

Of the 24 tracks offered – six are Previously Unreleased Garpax Records (2 Demos) and 5 others are Alternate Takes (some in Stereo) while the rest make up uber-rare American 45s. More famous for one-off novelty records like "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles and "Monster Mash" by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers (don’t you just love that name) – Paxton had also produced a young Thelma Houston on secular albums she made with Capitol Records. What we get here is more akin however to West Coast 60ts R&B – and typically – Ace have uncovered some gems and interviewed a bunch of the Sixties Femmes involved – clearing up recording mysteries of decades. Here are the lucky ladies...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) – "Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls" by Various Artists on Ace Records CDCHD 1442 (Barcode 029667072120) is a 24-track CD compilation and pans out as follows (55:08 minutes):

1. Just A Little Bit More – THE IDOLS (1961 USA 7” single on Reveille M-1002, Reissued Dot 16210, A)
2. Losing Control – MARY SAXTON (1966 Canadian 7” single on Pace 18-1166, A)
3. Keep A Hold On Him – BEATRICE LEE (1962 USA 7” single on Kent 385, A)
4. It Feels So Good – GRANT & APRIL [Grant Taylor and April Lynn] (2015 Alternate Mix of a 1964 USA 7” single on Dee Dee 1013)
5. I Was The Lonely One – DORIS WEBB (1962 USA 7” single on Star-Burst 121, A)
6. Day Dreamin’ Of You – THE FASHIONETTES (Stereo Mix of 1964 USA 7” single on GNP Crescendo GNP 322, A)
7. Little Girl With A Big Hurt – BEVERLY WILLIAMS (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
8. It Just Ain’t Right – LINDA MACKEY (Alternate Mix of Dot 16625)
9. He’s Not Mine Anymore – JOSEPHINE SUNDAY (1964 USA 7” single on Pinnacle 1722)
10.  You Know You Lied – DOROTHY BERRY & THE SWANS (1961 USA 7” single on Vanco V-101)
11. It Kinda Picks Me Up – TANYA MARIE (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
12. Only Love – THE FASHIONETTES (Stereo Mix of 1964 USA 7” single on GNP Crescendo GNP 322, B)
13. A Tear – MARY SAXTON (Alternate Mix of a track on the Canadian LP "Sad Eyes" on Birchmount BM 511)
14. Operator Operator – BEATRICE LEE (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
15. Merry Go Round – LINDA MACKEY (2015 Alternate Mix of a 1964 USA 7” single on Dot 16625)
16. Yosemite Sam – JUDY & THE JADES (1963 USA 7” single on Star-Burst 58-124)
17. Shoes And Rice And Paradise – THE REV-LONS (Previously Unreleased Demo Recording, 2015)
18. I Won’t Be Hurt Anymore – JOSEPHINE SUNDAY (1964 USA 7” single on Pinnacle 1722)
19. It’s A Lonely World – MARY SAXTON (Alternate Mix of a track on the Canadian LP "Sad Eyes" on Birchmount BM 511)
20. Help Me – BEATRICE LEE (1962 USA 7” single on Kent 385)
21. Reap What You Sow – LINDA MACKEY (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
22. Please Write Me A Letter – CHRIS DARLIN (1960 USA 7” single on Dore 578)
23. Why Must I Cry – THE IDOLS (1961 USA 7” single on Reveille M-1002, Reissued Dot 16210, B)
24. He’s Hurtin’ Me – BEVERLY WILLIAMS (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
NOTES:
All tracks are MONO except 6, 7 and 12 which are STEREO
Tracks 4, 8, 13, 15 and 19 are 'Alternate Versions' - Tracks 7, 11, 14, 17, 21 and 24 are Previously Unissued Recordings (17 and 24 are Demos)

The 16-page booklet has recollections from Beatrice Lee, Beverly Williams, Dorothy Berry, Linda Mackey and Rachel Hernandez (of The Rev-Lons) – so the facts and personal details come thick, fast and interesting. Inbetween the typically affectionate ALEC PALAO liner notes are personal photos – studio photos of Gary S Paxton with Beverly Williams and a cool 1970 picture sleeve of Linda Mackey holding a submachine gun for the reissue sleeve of "Yours For The Asking". There’s 45s for Star-Burst, Pinnacle and Dee Dee Records as well as a newspaper clipping for Chris Darlin aged 18 looking pucker as she waves her court-ruling document on a singing contract. The remasters are by NICK ROBBINS and all sound great – even the lo-fi demos – which are included I suspect because of the sheer feel.

The compilation is a strange mix of Soul and Girl Groups and for the most part it works well. It opens strongly – both sides of THE IDOLS are crackers especially "Why Must I Cry". Northern Soul hounds will no doubt have noticed with a bit of sweaty-palm excitement the fabulous driving grooves of Mary Saxton's "Losing Control" where the lady sounds like Tina Turner on the verge of a vocal breakdown. It's a fabulous dancer written by Gary Paxton and his wife Jan and I can’t imagine how much money the original Canadian 45 goes for amongst aficionados. Her second cut on here "A Tear" is more akin to Dusty Springfield and is good rather than being great. Linda Mackey was a high-school majorette possessed of a natural set of pipes – so much so that Ike Turner once propositioned her mum for hours on the phone to join Tina, him and The Ikettes on the road - but Linda was underage at the time and mummy wisely said no. Both of Mackey’s cuts on here “It Just Ain’t Right” and “Merry Go Round” have a 'Northern Soul discovery' feeling about them.

Another Motown-ish bopper is "Operator Operator" by Beatrice Lee who provides two lovely photos for the booklet of her younger self in 1962 and 1965. A talent-show winner at age 12 – she packs a vocal punch too. Pure theatrics kick in with "Yosemite Sam" complete with opening gunshots while Judy and The Jades tell us about the wild-west rip-roaring man of their dreams. Innocence profound and pure Girl Group listening pleasure shows up in the form of a lovely demo of "Shoes And Rice And Paradise" by The Rev-Lons (genre collectors will love this). Continuing the pretty is the sweet voice of Josephine Sunday in the pleader "I Won't Be Hurt Anymore" – a genre classic that mixes some male vocal group backing with lady spoken lyrics (very nice indeed). Mary Saxton gets a fantastic second outing in the Motown-ish "It's A Lonely World" – an alternate version that sounds fresh and cool. Beatrice Lee's "Help Me" is more early Soul than Girl Group and again you feel a Kent CD compilation beckons. It ends on a revealing demo of "He's Hurtin' Me" by Beverly Williams – it’s just her voice and a guitar and it’s amazingly touching – raw and real. A nice way to go out...


I don’t think its all genius but there’s enough for both Girl Group and 60ts R&B Soul hunters to devour. Another winner from Ace...

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