Wednesday, 26 April 2017

"Ducks Deluxe/Taxi To The Terminal Zone" by DUCKS DELUXE (2002 Beat Goes On Reissue - 2LPs onto 2CDs - Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...We Sang The Songs We Loved..."


Ah Pub Rock - I was a devotee and truth be told - still am.

Sean Tyla's wonderful and fondly remembered DUCKS DELUXE signed to RCA Records in 1973 and promptly pumped out two Seventies Rock 'n' Roll/Pub Rock albums one year apart - the superb and criminally overlooked "Ducks Deluxe" debut in February 1974 followed the next year in February 1975 by the Dave Edmunds Produced "Taxi To The Terminal Zone" - a title taken from a lyric in Chuck Berry's 1964 classic "Promised Land" - a song Edmunds had covered himself back in 1972 on his Regal Zonophone LP "Rockpile". And that's where this wicked little British Beat Goes On twofer CD set comes swaggering in. Here are the boppin' beers and barstools...

UK released January 2002 - "Ducks Deluxe/Taxi To The Terminal Zone" by DUCKS DELUXE on Beat Goes On BGOCD 539 (Barcode 5017261205391) offers 2 albums Remastered onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "Ducks Deluxe" - 44:24 minutes:
1. Coast To Coast [Side 1]
2. Nervous Breakdown
3. Daddy Put The Bomp
4. I Got You
5. Please, Please, Please
6. Fireball
7. Don't Mind Rocking Tonite [Side 2]
8. Hearts On My Sleeve
9. Falling For That Woman
10. West Coast Trucking Board
11. Too Hot To Handle
12. It's All Over Now
Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut album "Ducks Deluxe" - released February 1974 in the UK and USA on RCA Victor LPL1 5008. Produced by DAVE BLOXHAM - it didn't chart. Tracks 1 and 5 written by Nick Garvey, Tracks 3, 6, 9, 10 and 11 written by Sean Tyla, Tracks 4 and 8 written by Martin Belmont with Track 7 co-written by Martin Belmont and Nick Garvey – Track 2 is an Eddie Cochran cover version while Track 11 is a cover of a Valentino's 1964 single written by Bobby Womack.

Disc 2 - "Taxi To The Terminal Zone" - 38:10 minutes:
1. Cherry Pie [Side 1]
2. It Doesn't Matter Tonite
3. I'm Crying
4. Love's Melody
5. Teenage Head
6. Rio Grande [Side 2]
7. My My Music
8. Rainy Night In Kilburn
9. Woman Of The Man
10. Paris 9
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "Taxi To The Terminal Zone" - released February 1975 in the UK on RCA Records SF 8402. Produced by DAVE EDMUNDS (he also plays Pedal Steel Guitar on "Rio Grande" and Rhythm Guitar on "Paris 9") - it didn't chart. Tracks 2, 6, 9 and 10 written by Sean Tyla, Track 1 co-written by Martin Belmont and Sean Tyla, Tracks 3 and 7 written by Nick Garvey, Track 4 written by Andrew McMasters and Track 5 is a Flamin' Groovies cover version.

DUCKS DELUXE was:
SEAN TYLA - Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Wah Wah Guitar and Keyboards
MARTIN BELMONT - Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals
NICK GARVEY - Bass Guitar and Lead Vocals
TIM ROPER - Drums and Backing Vocals
ANDREW McMASTER - Keyboards and Vocals for the "Taxi To The Terminal Zone" LP only

The 8-page inlay may look like a slight affair but with liner notes from original band member MARTIN BELMONT illuminated the history of almost every song - it's actually a hugely informative read. There’s a black and white photo of the four-piece band beneath the text and see-through CD trays – but not a lot else. As with so many of these early BGO releases - there is no mastering credits but with the material licensed from BMG - I'm suspecting these are quality ANDREW THOMPSON Remasters because the audio on this is Ace. The Dave Edmunds Produced second LP in particular sounds fabulous (the plaintive ballad "I'm Crying" for instance) - done at his own Rockfield Studios in Wales in late 1974.

The "Ducks Deluxe" self-titled debut is a winner I return to again and again - the kind of album you play to death - side after side. It even gets better as the years-pass and the grey hairs accumulate while the grey matter dissipates. A count-in asks if the kids are ready to Rock 'n' Roll in "Coast To Coast" - a snotty number that is a huge fave amongst fans. It was an obvious kick-ass single so RCA rush-released Nick Garvey's punky rocker in November 1973 (RCA 2438) with the non-album "Bring Back That Packard Car" on the flip-side. Damn shame someone didn't think to include that rarity as a Bonus Track here. There follows a truly cool version of Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown" - another show-stopper and one the blessed Eddie would surely have approved of. The bare but utterly brilliant "Daddy Put The Bomp" is the kind of simplistic tune about Rock 'n' Roll that eats its way into your heart - Texas and Swamps and Ladies and Eddie singing "Summertime Blues" again. Belmont admits to a Stax Records obsession in the decidedly Otis-sounding "I Got You". He rightly acknowledges the horn section 'The Sons Of The Jungle' who were George Larnyah on Tenor Sax, Peter Van Der Puij on Baritone Sax and Eddie Quansah on Trumpet - they play also on "Falling For That Woman" and are also on the Toots and The Maytals classic "Funky Kingston". Side 1 comes bopping to a finish with the 1964 Beatles strum of "Please, Please, Please" and probably their most popular raver - "Fireball" - Belmont revealing that the chordal guitar is probably based on "Sweet Jane" from the Velvet's 1970 "Loaded" album.

Side 2 opens with another snotty roar - the manic "Don't Mind Rocking Tonite" - another American homage that also features Bob Andrews of Brinsley Schwarz on keyboards (he also contributes the same to "West Coast Trucking Board" and "Too Hot To Handle"). Belmont gives short shift to his own "Hearts On My Sleeve" but I like its Rockpile feel. A cigarette being lit opens the second big ballad - the slow and soulful "Falling For That Woman" - the kind of great Soul-Rock song you want a band to play in a pub with a just few pints taken and the emotions oiled enough to flow like a river as the singer digs in - recalling his foolish fall for a lady that return the compliment. I love this song and the Remaster is great. The side comes to an end with three goodies - the very Band-sounding "West Texas Trucking Board" where Bob Andrews anchors the story-song with a superb swirling organ sound. It's followed by the slightly out-of-place clavinet-funk of "Too Hot To Handle" where Ducks Deluxe have been listening to too much Ace and not absorbing Paul Carrack's knack for Soul properly. But it ends on a high - a cover of the 1964 Valentino's classic "It's All Over". Written by Bobby Womack - it is of course more closely associated with The Rolling Stones who sort of made it their own. Great album, great finish...

I can still remember the sting of LP number 2 - somehow it felt flat compared to the debut - lack of good song. It's actually hard to nail down why it doesn't quite lift off - but being Ducks Deluxe - there are plenty of moments well worth owning. Nick Garvey used to roadie equipment for the American Rock 'n' Roll ravers The Flamin' Groovies so DD's cover of their "Teenage Head" was a perfect fit. Tyla does his best Bob Dylan Texas Outlaw voice for "Rio Grande" aided and abetted by Edmunds who plays a mean Pedal Steel behind that 'Blonde On Blonde' organ throughout (saddle up boys). At last we get what feels like some half decent Pub Rock in "My My Music" – the great piano boogie (Andrew McMaster) matching the lyrics about a band that rocks all night playing the music he wants to hear. Trivia fans should note that Wilco Johnson of Dr. Feelgood is apparently amidst the hand-clappers – not that you'd recognise it! Belmont doesn't rate his ballad "Rainy Night In Kilburn" but I actually like the music – with a different vocalist it might have lifted off better. McMaster's lone contribution "Love's Melody" is insanely catchy - predating by a good two to three years the New Wave sound of '77 and '78 that would dominate literally hundreds of English 45s in those explosively creative years.

Both Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster would jump ship after album number two failed - leaving to form The Motors who would go on to have a huge hit with "Airport" in June 1978 on Virgin Records. The band hired in Mick Groome on Bass to replace the lost boys and recorded one final Four-Track EP called "Jumping" for the French label Sky Dog in 1975 - and again a damn shame it wasn't included here as obvious Bonus Tracks material on Disc 2 when there was plenty of room. Tyla would of course form Tyla's Gang and pump out more Rock 'n' Roll/Punky tunes – often providing winners for Dr. Feelgood (check out the Tyla retrospective "Pool Hall Punks: The Complete Recordings 1976-1978" on Esoteric Recordings from August 2016) - while the Ducks Deluxe sound legacy would lead on to Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Graham Parker and The Rumour and the Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds vehicle Rockpile to name but a few.

For sure the second platter lets the side down somewhat as does the absence of Bonus Cuts on both CDs that would have lifted this release so high. But as I re-listen to "It Don't Matter Tonite" on "Taxi" and "Fireball" on "Ducks Deluxe" - I'm reminded of and transported back to sweaty heaving pubs and Dr. Feelgood and The Kursaal Flyers and Brinsley Schwarz and of course Ducks Deluxe.

And that's the kind of Teenage Nervous Breakdown I like. Thanks for the memories boys...

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