Sunday, 13 September 2015

"The London American Label Year By Year: 1966" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2015 Ace Records CD - Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"...Boo Bip Bip Yeah!" 

For many rabid collectors (and with 40 years of reissue experience) - Ace Records of the UK was always going to do a storming job cataloguing a British label that many feel put out the very best the US musical marketplace had to offer – LONDON RECORDS (or 'London American Recordings' to be more exact). Even today the mere sight of a London 45 single with its rather dull black and silver label design - sat neatly in one of those course paper bags with all those neatly spaced lines down them - elicits a perpendicular tingle of aural orgasm (and that’s just the left leg man).


Ace’s brilliant reissue series "The London American Label Year By Year" starts at 1956 and now reaches a landmark 11th CD for the year "1966". And what a winner "1966" is too. You get twenty-eight different tunes remastered from the very best sources (three of these 45s were withdrawn in the UK so they're rare) – genre benders like Thrashing Garage, Sunshine Pop, Northern Soul, Novelty Hits and (unfortunately) some insipid teen cheese-puff - not to mention a guy with a gun that the BBC banned. It's all here - and in glorious 7" Mono Technicolour too. There's a ton of tasty tunes to get through so once more good music people unto the stripy label bag breach...


UK released August 2015 (September 2015 in the USA) – "The London American Label Year By Year: 1966" on Ace Records CDCHD 1444 (Barcode 029667073622) is a 28-track CD and breaks down as follows (78:23 minutes):


1. Five O'Clock World – THE VOGUES

December 1965 US 7" single on Co & Ce 232 (peaked at 4)
January 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10014 (didn't chart)

2. Love's Made A Fool Of You – BOBBY FULLER FOUR

March 1966 USA 7" single on Mustang 3016 (peaked at 26)
May 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10041 (peaked at 33)
A Buddy Holly cover version

3. Cast Your Fate To The Wind – SHELBY FLINT

September 1966 US 7" single on Valiant 743 (peaked at 61)
August 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10068 (didn't chart)
A Vincent Guaraldi Trio cover version (1963) and Sounds Orchestral cover version (1965)

4. Open The Door To Your Heart – DARRELL BANKS

August 1966 US 7" single on Revilot 201 (peaked at 27)
August 1966 WITHDRAWN UK 7" single on London HLU 10070 (Demos Only Pressed)
Released September 1966 in the UK on Stateside SS 536

5. Come On In – BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND

November 1966 US 7" single on Elektra EK-45609 (didn't chart)
December 1966 UK 7" single on London HLZ 10100 (didn't chart)
Paul Butterfield Blues Band with Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield on Guitars and Paul Butterfield on Vocals/Harmonica

6. Don't Touch Me – JEANNIE SEELY

May 1966 USA 7" single on Monument 933 (peaked at 85)
June 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10052 (didn't chart)

7. Crazy Like A Fox – LINK CROMWELL

April 1966 USA 7" single on Hollywood 1107 (didn't chart)
May 1966 UK 7" single on London HLB 10040 (didn't chart)

8. The Pain Gets A Little Deeper – DARROW FLETCHER

December 1965 USA 7" single on Groovy 3001 (charted 1/1/66 at 23)
February 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10024 (didn't chart)

9. I'll Keep It With Mine – JUDY COLLINS

November 1965 USA 7" single on Elektra EK-45601 (didn't chart)
March 1966 UK 7" single on London HLZ 10029 (didn't chart)
Written by Bob Dylan, non-album track for him

10. The Rains Came – SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET

February 1966 USA 7" single on Tribe 8314 (peaked at 31)
February 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10019 (didn’t chart)
A cover version of a 1963 song by Big Sambo and The House Rockers

11. She Blew A Good Thing – THE AMERICAN POETS [known as THE POETS in the USA]

January 1966 USA 7" single on Symbol 214 (peaked at 2)
April 1966 UK 7" single on London HLC 10037 (didn't chart)

12. Mister Bang Bang Man – LITTLE HANK

November 1966 USA 7" single on Sound Stage 7 45-2566
November 1966 WITHDRAWN UK 7" single on London HLU 10090
Both Stock and Demo copies of the UK pressing exist and are extremely rare – listed at £150 each.
It was reissued in the UK on Monument MON 1045 in May 1970. It didn't chart in either country.

13. Bird-Doggin' – GENE VINCENT

August 1966 USA 7" single on Challenge 59337 (didn't chart)
September 1966 UK 7" single on London HLH 10079 (didn't chart)
Written by Keith Colley

14. Teenager's Prayer – JOE SIMON

May 1966 USA 7" single on Sound Stage 7 45-2564 (peaked at 86)
July 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10057 (didn't chart)

15. Hand Jive – THE STRANGELOVES

June 1966 USA 7" single on Bang 524 (peaked at 100 for one week)
July 1966 UK 7" single on London HLZ 10063 (didn't chart)

16. The White Cliffs Of Dover – THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS

September 1966 USA 7" single on Philles 132 (didn't chart)
October 1966 UK 7" single on London HL 10086 (peaked at 21)
Produced by Phil Spector

17. Cherish – THE ASSOCIATION

August 1966 USA 7" single on Valiant 747 (peaked at No. 1)
September 1966 UK 7" single on London HLT 10074 (didn't chart)

18. You Left The Water Running – BARBARA LYNN

November 1966 USA 7" single on Tribe 8319 (didn't chart)
November 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10094 (didn't chart)
Written by Dan Penn and the Fame label’s Rick Hall

19. United – THE INTRUDERS

August 1966 USA 7" single on Gamble 201 (peaked at 78)
August 1966 UK 7" single on London HL 10069 (didn't chart)
Written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff

20. Ever see A Diver Kiss His Wife While The Bubbles Bounce About Above The Water? – SHIRLEY ELLIS

January 1966 USA 7" single on Congress 260 (didn't chart)
February 1966 UK 7" single on London HLR 10021 (didn't chart)

21. Party People – RAY STEVENS

November 1965 USA 7" single on Monument 911 (didn't chart)
January 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10016
Written by Joe South

22. I Can Hear Music – THE RONETTES

October 1966 USA 7" single on Philles 133 (peaked at 99)
October 1966 WITHDRAWN UK 7" single on London HLU 10087
Produced by Jeff Barry (not Phil Spector)

23. You Burn Me Up And Down – WE THE PEOPLE

September 1966 USA 7" single on Challenge 59340 (didn't chart)
November 1966 UK 7" single on London HLH 10089 (didn't chart)

24. Mr. Dieingly Sad – THE CRITTERS

August 1966 USA 7" single on Kapp 769 (peaked at 17)
August 1966 UK 7" single on London HLR 10071 (didn't chart)

25. 7 And 7 Is – LOVE

July 1966 USA 7" single on Elektra EK-45605 (peaked at 33)
September 1966 UK 7" single on London HLZ 10073 (didn't chart)
Written by Arthur Lee

26. I'm A Nut – LEROY PULLINS

June 1966 USA 7" single on Kapp K-758 (peaked at 57)
June 1966 UK 7" single on London HLR 10056 (didn't chart)

27. To Make A Big Man Cry – ROY HEAD

September 1966 USA 7" single on Back Beat 571 (peaked at 95)
November 1966 UK 7" single on London HLZ 10097 (didn't chart)

28. River Deep-Mountain High – IKE & TINA TURNER

May 1966 USA 7" single on Philles 131 (peaked at 88)
May 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 10046 (peaked at No. 1)

The 20-page booklet is masterful stuff – beautifully laid out with large numbers of the London labels represented by their sought-after 'yellow label' demo versions. Inbetween the Record Retailer advert clippings are stunning informational paragraphs by TONY ROUNCE who outdoes his formidable track record for liner notes - it's a feast of properly indepth info and Ace have done "1966" proud. But best of all is those beautifully transferred MONO single mixes courtesy of Audio Engineer and long-time Ace Associate – DUNCAN COWELL. I've had some of these on other CD compilations and these variants sound awesome – full and kicking – singularly powerful and like they would have sounded when they sailed out of our transistor radios. And instead of slavishly sticking to chronological order (January to December) – compiler Rounce has mixed it up – smart sequencing making the rhythms flow better - and the listen a hundred times more enjoyable and interesting.


It opens with a forgotten nugget – the hugely likeable "Five O’Clock World" by The Vogues with its yodelling chorus vocals. The joyous Northern Soul monster "Open The Door To Your Heart" was withdrawn in August 1966 by London (demos were pressed but will set you back a paltry £800 should you find one) only to repressed the following month on England's Stateside imprint  on SS 536 (yours for a piddling £300). What a tune and worth the dosh – you can literally smell the talcum powder as it plays and hear those shuffling British slacks as they shimmy and groove across the dancefloor towards some pretty girl. The pure country weepy "Don't Touch Me" by Jeannie Seely is a genius choice - and even if the Record Retailer advert on Page 9 of the booklet wrongly catalogues it as HLU 15002 instead of 10052 – it's an incredibly tender break-up song that embodies a Soulful ache and I can see why collectors would seek it out (beautifully transferred by Cowell too).


"...They call me neurotic...and say I'm psychotic... because I let my hair grow long..." - Link Cromwell moans lyrical in the naughtily rebellious "Crazy Like A Fox". He would later compile the much-revered "Nuggets" double-album in 1972 on Elektra and then become Guitarist for Patti Smith. One of the prizes on here is Judy Collins' gorgeous version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" – a song he never recorded commercially and her Elektra Records 45 debut. Moving away from her Folk roots and previous output – Judy made it into a Pop song loaded with that fabulous upbeat Sixties optimism. It also featured both Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield who'd played on Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home" LP in 1965. Why such a wickedly cool little tune (non-album Dylan too) didn't make a chart splash on either side of the pond is a genuine mystery to me. Even worse - because neither it nor Paul Butterfield nor Love charted in the UK – Blighty's 'London' label decided to give up on Elektra Records entirely - thereby missing out on The Doors, Tim Buckley, MC5, The Stooges, Bread, Carly Simon and loads more (imagine what those late 60ts London 45s would be worth now)...


While it's nice to finally hear The Sir Douglas Quintet 45 "The Rain Comes" on CD – in truth it isn't a patch as a song on the fab groove of their previous romper "She's About A Mover" from April 1965. Better is the gorgeous Motownish bopping Soul of "She Blew A Good Thing" by The American Poets with Ronnie Lewis chewing up the Lead Vocals (known simply as The Poets in the USA). It's been a Northern Soul stalwart for decades now and not surprising to see it listed at £200 and upwards in Price Guides. Genius choice time again – "Bird-Doggin'" is a fantastic Guitar-and-Harmonica-infused R&B dancer that thrashes like an American Garage version of Them – only it's by British Rock 'n' Roller Gene Vincent of all people (what a gem). Cleverly following that is the very Jerry Butler slow Soul of "Teenager's Prayer" by Joe Simon – yours for a surprisingly cheap £30 (if you can find a London HLU 10057 original). Written by Chuck Taylor "Mister Bang Bang Man" freaked the BBC out with its gunshots and swaggering dude walking the street toting his handgun like it was party time at gangster central – so Decca pulled it - despite both Demo and Stock copies having been pressed. With its sort of Ska/Bluebeat brassy backbeat – "Mister Bang Bang Man" has subsequently become a £150 sought-after rarity. Soul fans will dig "United" which Gamble & Huff gave to The Intruders while the magic of Dan Penn's songwriting (with the help of the Fame label’s Rick Hall) imbibes Barbara Lynn's "You Left The Water Running" with a whiteboy-soul sweetness. Written by Joe South – "Party People" by Ray Stevens tanked because its just too ordinary – something you can't say about the extraordinary "7 And 7 Is" by Arthur Lee's Love – a commercial failure but a "hey man" garage 45 triumph. The Ronettes make the third withdrawn entry on this CD compilation – the £100-listed "I Can Hear Music" – the only song of theirs 'not' produced by Phil Spector (Jeff Barry stepped in).


The utterly bizarre novelty record "Ever See A Diver Kiss His Wife While The Bubbles Bounce About Above The Water?" features Shirley Ellis engaging in a singing/talking word battle with her real-life hubby Lincoln Chase trying to sound like some Jamaican extra in "Dr. No". Better is the recorded-in-a-bucket garage of "You Burn Me Up And Down" by We The People – a magnificent slice of screaming guitar/vocal mayhem that feels like The Stooges rehearsing in 1966. Hardly surprising then that it sold zip and is listed at £135+. Rapidly back to novelty with the utterly lunatic "I'm A Nut" by Leroy Pullins - which feels like The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" sung by some hillbilly hick cross-pollenated with Ray Stevens as he records "The Streak"! Speaking of loveable loons - the celebrated and hugely missed British DJ/TV Comedian Kenny Everett used to play it on his BBC Radio Show - but sadly didn’t include it on his masterpiece of laughter LP "The World's Worst Record Show" from 1978. K-Tel issued the album of 20 dreadful records on a delightful slather of puke-coloured vinyl and I frankly treasure that album with an almost gun-totting passion (anyone goes near it and they die). "1966" ends on the inevitable Spector monster of "River Deep-Mountain High" sung by the Soulful Superlungs of Tina Turner trying to be heard over all those strings and echo effects.


So there you have it. In truth not all of "1966" will appeal – but l love its diversity and its brilliantly clever choices/sequencing (collectors will also dig those first-time-on-the-digital-format rarities). Even as someone who claims 'to know his stuff' – there are tracks on here I haven’t heard and clearly needed to.


"...Boo Bip Bip Yeah!" – Arthur Lee shouts on the manic Elektra Records 45 "7 And 7 Is" by LOVE. And who am I to disagree with a visionary!


PS: Titles in "The London American Label Year By Year" Ace Records CD Series are:

1. The London American Label Year By Year: 1956 (Ace CDCHD 1347, June 2012)
2. The London American Label Year By Year: 1957 (Ace CDCHD 1318, January 2012)
3. The London American Label Year By Year: 1958 (Ace CDCHD 1310, June 2011)
4. The London American Label Year By Year: 1959 (Ace CDCHD 1285, November 2010)
5. The London American Label Year By Year: 1960 (Ace CDCHD 1237, August 2009)
6. The London American Label Year By Year: 1961 (Ace CDCHD 1249, January 2010)
7. The London American Label Year By Year: 1962 (Ace CDCHD 1265, June 2010)
8. The London American Label Year By Year: 1963 (Ace CDCHD 1302, March 2011)
9. The London American Label Year By Year: 1964 (Ace CDCHD 1366, May 2013)
10. The London American Label Year By Year: 1965 (Ace CDCHD 1417, October 2014)
11. The London American Label Year By Year: 1966 (Ace CDCHD 1444, August 2015)

This review and hundreds like it are part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series. 

Check out COOL 1960s MUSIC - over 2000 e-pages of great info and indepth reviews...


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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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