Monday, 23 May 2016
"Something Old, Something New" by THE OLYMPICS (2006 Ace/Kent 'Hip Pocket' 5" Card CD Repro and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
"...Earth Breaking...Back Shaking...Do The Philly Dog..."
The fifth album by Californian Vocal Group THE OLYMPICS on Mirwood Records went largely unnoticed in the winter of 1966 despite being a killer mixture of Soul Dancers and Motownesque interpretations of their own Vocal Group/R&B Oldies. Their debut 45 "Western Movies" in August 1958 on Demon 1508 (a No. 8 Pop smash) and the June 1963 minor charting of "The Bounce" at No. 40 (Tri Disc 106) along with four whole albums (three on Arvee Records and one on Tri Disc Records) was long since past. But perhaps that 'Vocal Group' tag simply wouldn't shake off and explains why such a good Soul album saw so little chart action despite Mirwood releasing six singles across 1966 and 1967 to support the LP.
It has of course garnished the interest of collectors subsequently when they hear its superb string of club killers. The fabulous dancer "Baby, Do The Philly Dog" released October 1966 on Mirwood 5523 has subsequently become something of a Northern Soul monster - and Jon Savage included "Secret Agents" from the album on his October 2015 double-CD thesis "1966: The Year The Decade Exploded" – another cool talcum powder shaker. The three guys on the cover are WALTER WARD, EDDIE LEWIS and MACK STARR. Original band member Charles Fizer had been killed during a race riot in August 1965 aged only 25. "Something Old, Something New" does what it says on the tin – it’s a mixture of old hits like "Hully Gully" and "The Bounce" re-recorded for the 1966 marketplace. The whole damn thing is good too - and I'm not the only one to think so (apart from Ace). KGFJ Radio Disc Jockey JIM RANDOLPH wants the 'happening listener' to 'groove on' in his excitable liner notes on the rear cover – and frankly who are we to go dim on Jim. Here are the Western Movies baby...
UK and Europe released December 2006 - "Something Old, Something New" by THE OLYMPICS on Ace/Kent CDHP 018 (Barcode 029667025126) is a straightforward reissue of their 1966 LP onto CD. This Remaster is part of Ace Records 'Hip Pocket Series' of CD Reissues (see list below) and plays outs as follows (28:13 minutes)
1. Western Movies
2. Hully Gully
3. Big Boy Pete
4. Shimmy Like Kate
5. Dance By The Light Of The Moon
6. The Bounce
7. Mine Exclusively [Side 2]
8. Baby, Do The Philly Dog
9. The Duck
10. Secret Agents
11. We Go Together, Pretty Baby
12. I'll Do A Little Bit More
Tracks 1 to 12 are their fifth album "Something Old, Something New" - released December 1966 in the USA on Mirwood MW 7003 (Mono) and Mirwood MWS-7003 (Stereo) – the STEREO mix is used for the CD.
The 5" card sleeve repros the original and rare American Mirwood Records LP with some basic (boxed) reissue notes on the rear sleeve. There's also an inner sleeve (unusual for these 'Hip Pocket' reissues which shows the Stereo Label of Mirwood MWS 7003). It looks and feels nice. NICK ROBBINS – a long time Audio Engineer associated with Ace, Edsel and Esoteric - did the remastering. Ace always use the real tapes and the Audio here is fabulous – full of that Sixties atmosphere – the instruments and production kept so sweet. The CD label lists tracks and writer credits and it's mid-price - so available for less than six quid in most places.
The whole 'Hip Pocket' series is designed to ape those 4" multi-track mini records (played at 33 1/3) put out in the USA between 1967 and 1969 as a way for fans to get the music in a 'handy and portable' way (they issued about 60 titles). As you can see from the list below – most of these albums are either obscurities - or overlooked classics Ace feel you should pay attention to. Genres stretch from 50ts Jazz (Chuck Higgins) to Blues Piano and Vocals (Roosevelt Sykes and Hadda Brooks) to 70ts Metal (Motorhead) to Punk (Radio Stars) and 60ts Garage & Psych (Sonics and Zombies) and beyond...
They give it the gunshot beginning too on the remake of 1958's "Western Movies" - a cool mid-tempo beginning (not quite as good as the original some might say but close). We get almost New Orleans R&B with "(Baby Hully Gully)" - another well-recorded driving remake that feels very 'now'. Someone sings a deep 'yeah' throughout the catchy "Big Boy Pete" while "Shimmy Like Kate" feels like 'Voo it, Voo it' R&B shimmy-shaker. The upbeat and be-stringed "Dance By The Light Of The Moon" is a first slip-up - a cheesy version with a vocal you can barely make out. Better is the Ray Charles pumping piano of "The Bounce" - a great dancer that Mirwood put out as an A-side (Mirwood 5525) with "The Duck" on the flip-side. Amazing it didn't chart.
If you jump immediately to Side 2 and play "Mine Exclusively", "Baby, Do The Philly Dog" and "The Duck" in a row - you'd think you'd stumbled on a great Soulful Motown album - handclaps - driving drums - girly backing vocals complimenting that guttural lead vocal. "Secret Agents" name-checks some of the day's obsessions - spies, agents, the FBI and Walter Cronkite - and is another Motownesque driver (it was the B-side to "Mine Exclusively" on Mirwood 5513). You'd swear H-D-H was conducting Marvin Gaye for "Baby Don't You Do It" as you listen to the relentless dance groove of the fab "We Go Together (Pretty Baby)". Mirwood thought it such a winner that they used it for the first 45 from the LP (Mirwood 5504) with the superb "Secret Agents" on the flip - what a winner - but again no chart action. It ends on another dancefloor pacer - "I'll Do A Little Bit More" - a tune where the singer worries about a 'muscle bound man holding your hand in the back seat of a car' so he's going to have to up his game and do a little bit more...
A fabulous little Soul/Dancer album then and a very cool CD reissue.
"...Gotta have it! Got to have your love!" - The Olympics declare on "I'll Do A Little Bit More". Got to have it - I agree...
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)