Wednesday, 31 January 2018

"Jon Savage's 1965 - The Year The Sixties Ignited" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (January 2018 Ace 2CD Compilation - Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...See My Friends - Junkyard Angels..."

In some respects in other to properly review the 2018 2CD set "Jon Savage's 1965 - The Year The Sixties Ignited" - you have to talk about what's 'not' on here.

A jaundiced eye will immediately notice the absence of artists not just pivotal to the year in question but to the whole musical landscape of those amazingly creative times – namely The Beatles and The Rolling Stones - disallowed no doubt because of licensing rights although Savage has included them sideways through their connections to other bands (The Sickle for The Beatles and Vashti Bunyan for The Rolling Stones). Having said that and even allowing for the fact that each CD carries a disappointing one-hour playing time (room for more boys) and the fact that some tunes will be overly familiar to long-time collectors - I'm still mightily impressed by the majority of Savage's savvy choices. This is a great listen...and cleverly sequenced too...

You get groundbreaking sounds and genres (early Punk and emerging Soul) - forgotten heroes and influence shapers (Vashti Bunyan, The Poets, The Sonics and producers Jimmy Miller and Andrew Loog Oldham) and that almost perceptible sense of restlessness and rage from the bands and writers living through huge social upheaval and change - kids no longer wanting to be force-fed The Bachelors or The Anita Kerr Singers and the biased sanitised opinions of the Man. As you play through this twofer - you can literally feel real life encroaching on the music charts – in the lyrics – the grungy guitars - change bursting through the crap of Jim Crow and his Lasso Crew. But before we get bogged down with a river of slippery adjectives - let's get to the music...

UK released Friday, 26 January 2018 (10 February 2018 in the USA) - "Jon Savage's 1965 - The Year The Sixties Ignited" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDTOP2 1513 (Barcode 029667086028) is a 48-Track 2CD compilation of Remastered UK and US 7" singles and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (59:59 minutes):
1. Concrete And Clay - UNIT FOUR PLUS TWO (January 1965 UK, Decca F 12071, A-side)
2. Land Of A Thousand Dances Pt. 1 - THEE MIDNITERS (January 1965 USA, Chattahoochee CH-666, A-side)
3. Shotgun - JR WALKER & THE ALL STARS (April 1965 UK, Tamla Motown TMG 509, A-side)
4. Come And Stay With Me - MARIANNE FAITHFULL (February 1965 UK, Decca F 12075, A-side)
5. That's The Way It's Got To Be - THE POETS (February 1965 UK, Decca F 12074, A-side)
6. Fortune Teller - TONY JACKSON with THE VIBRATIONS (February 1965 UK, Pye 7N 15766, B-side of "Love Potion No. 9")
7. Twine Time - ALVIN CASH & THE CRAWLERS (November 1964 USA, Mar-V-Lus 6002, A-side - February 1965 UK, Stateside SS 386, A-side)
8. Stranger In Town - DEL SHANNON (March 1965 UK, Stateside SS 395, A-side)
9. Nowhere To Run - MARTHA and THE VANDELLAS (March 1965 UK, Tamla Motown TMG 502, A-side)
10. Iko Iko - THE DIXIE CUPS (April 1965 UK, Red Bird RB 10 024, A-side)
11. Boot-Leg - BOOKER T. & THE MG's [Isaac Hayes on Keyboards] (July 1965 UK, Atlantic AT 4033, A-side)
12. Leaving Here - THE BIRDS [English Band featuring Ron Wood of Faces and Rolling Stones] (April 1965 UK, Decca F 12140, A-side)
13. I'm Alive - THE HOLLIES (May 1965 UK, Parlophone R 5287, A-side)
14. Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind - VASHTI [Vashti Bunyan] (May 1965 UK, Decca F 12157, A-side - written by Jagger & Richards)
15. Anyway Anyhow Anywhere - THE WHO (May 1965 UK, Brunswick 05935, A-side)
16. Incense - THE ANGLOS (May 1965 UK, Brit Records WI 1004 - reissued June 1965 UK, Fontana TF 589, A-side both cases)
17. The Price Of Love - THE EVERLY BROTHERS (May 1965 UK, Warner Brothers WB 161, A-side)
18. Boss Hoss - THE SONICS (May 1965 USA-Only, Etiquette ET-16, B-side of "The Hustler")
19. Nobody Knows What's Goin' On (In My Mind But Me) - THE CHIFFONS (July 1965 UK, Stateside SS 437, A-side)
20. Heart Full Of Soul - THE YARDBIRDS [feat Jeff Beck, Graham Gouldman song] (June 1965 UK, Columbia DB 7594, A-side)
21. Agent Double-O Soul - EDWIN STARR (June 1965 USA, Ric-Tic RT-103, A-side)
22. In The Midnight Hour - WILSON PICKETT (July 1965 UK, Atlantic AT 4036, A-side)
23. Too Many People - THE LEAVES (July 1965 USA, Mira 202, A-side - reissued July 1966 USA on Mira 227)
24. See My Friends - THE KINKS (July 1965 UK, Pye 7N 15919, A-side)

Disc 2 (62:05 minutes):
1. I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better - THE BYRDS (June 1965 USA, Columbia 4-43332, B-side of "All I Really Want To Do")
2. Buttermilk Pt. 1 - SLY [Sly Stone] (August 1965 USA, Autumn 14, A-side)
3. Anything - THE VEJTABLES (August 1965 USA, Autumn 15, B-side of "I Still Love You")
4. Can't Seem To Make You Mine - THE SEEDS (August 1965 USA, GNP Crescendo 354, A-side)
5. Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl - THE BARBARIANS (August 1965 UK, Stateside SS 449, A-side)
6. London Town - THE PRETTY THINGS (August 1965 UK, Fontana TE 17442 - 2nd Track on Side 1 of the "Rainin' In My Heart" 4-Track EP)
7. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - THE SILKIE (September 1965 UK, Fontana TF 603, A-side - features Paul, John and George of The Beatles)
8. From A Buick 6 - BOB DYLAN (October 1965 UK, CBS Records 201824, B-side of "Positively 4th Street")
9. If You Gotta Go, Go Now - MANFRED MANN (September 1965 UK, HMV Records POP 1466, A-side)
10. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag Pt. 1 - JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES (September 1965 UK, London HL 9990, A-side)
11. Ain't That Peculiar - MARVIN GAYE (November 1965 UK, Tamla Motown TMG 539, A-side)
12. Can You Hear Me - LEE DORSEY (October 1965 UK, Stateside SS 465, B-side of "Work, Work, Work" - reissued April 1968 UK on Bell BLL 1006 as an A-side)
13. It's My Life - THE ANIMALS (October 1965 UK, Columbia DB 7741, A-side)
14. You Just Gotta Know My Mind - KAREN VERROS (October 1965 USA, Dot 16780, A-side - written by Donovan, produced Jack Nitzsche)
15. Blow Your Mind - THE GAS CO (October 1965 USA, Mirwood 5501, A-side - produced by Jack Nitzsche)
16. The Train From Kansas City -THE SHANGRI-LAS (October 1965 UK, Red Bird RD 10 036, B-side of "Right Now And Not Later")
17. You Got What I Want - THE SORROWS (October 1965 UK, Piccadilly 7N 35277, A-side)
18. Hey GYP (Dig The Slowness) - DONOVAN (October 1965 UK, Pye 7N 15984, A-side)
19. Girl From The North Country - LINK WRAY (October 1965 USA, Swan 4232, A-side)
20. I've Got Mine - SMALL FACES (November 1965 UK, Decca F 12276, A-side)
21. The Duck - JACKIE LEE (December 1965 UK, London HLM 10233, A-side)
22. The Story Of John Hardy - THE SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET [feat Doug Sahm] (November 1965 UK, London HLU 10001, A-side)
23. We Sell Soul - THE SPADES [feat Roky Erickson] (December 1965 USA, Zero 10002, A-side)
24. My World Is Empty Without You - THE SUPREMES (December 1965 USA, Motown M-1089, A-side - February 1966 UK on Tamla Motown TMG 548, A-side)

Third in this series of Jon Savage compilations - October 2015's "1966" on Ace CDTOP2 1452 (Barcode 029667074223) and March 2017's "1967" on Ace CDTOP2 1495 (Barcode 029667079525) are the other two volumes - the 28-page booklet is a proper feast for the eyes and noggin. Savage sticks to the facts for each entry but also enlightens on song histories like how Tony Hall (head of Decca's promotion at the time) almost single-handedly pushed the Atlantic UK 7" single of Wilson Pickett's magical "In The Midnight Hour" up the charts. His love of the song and belief in it as a smash saw him get it featuring it on 'Juke Box Jury' many weeks after its failed British release due to zero promotion from other reps more interested in plugging safe Pop. Pickett was rewarded with a UK No. 12 chart placing - eight higher than his US placing of No. 20. Amazing to think of it now but some white guy who knew the goodies when he heard it - was the difference between us knowing the song for decades - or it sinking into obscurity through blind musical stupidity. Like the booklets for the other twofers "1966" and "1967" - the text here is peppered with British and American 45s - trade adverts - promotional posters - sheet music - beautifully done. Long-time Ace Records associate and Audio Engineer NICK ROBBINS has carried out the Mastering and as always - I love his work. Even stuff that is bucketshop like Sly's first single on Autumn Records or the crude Roky Erickson vocals and guitar on The Spades rare "We Sell Soul" are given that oomph they need.

I'd admit that Disc 2 is far better in my book than Disc 1 where I have my doubts about Del Shannon's "Stranger In Town" or Unit Four Plus Two's "Concrete And Clay" 'igniting' anything. But as you wade through the 48-songs you're struck again and again at the sheer brilliance of The Byrds, The Hollies, The Who, The Kinks and the fantastic Small Faces single "I've Got Mine" (a rare failure chartwise for them). Unsung heroes include Folky Vashti Bunyan with her lovely but slightly creeped-out cover of Jagger and Richard's "Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind" (Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin features on Guitar) - The Everly Brothers smashing their old sound with the fab and groovy hook of "The Price You Pay" (a deserved No. 2 hit) and the sheer youth declaration of intent in The Animals "It's My Life" sporting hissed lyrics like "...It's my life and I'll do what I want...It's my mind and I'll think what I want..." – Eric Burdon (Newcastle’s finest) taking no lip from Whitehall or Washington.

Nuggets include the superb garage vibe of "Leaving Here" by England's Birds. Covering Eddie Holland's H-D-H composition - the UK band featured Ron Wood of The Faces and Rolling Stones fame as well as Kim Gardner who would later give us "The Resurrection Shuffle" by Ashton, Gardner & Dyke in 1970. "Incense" by The Anglos is not just a true 'tune' (as they used to say in Reckless) - but it's been a Club and Northern Soul dancefloor monster for five decades. It was an early Jimmy Miller Production and when Chris Blackwell of Island Records heard its cool sound - he persuaded the American Miller to relocate to the UK where he would go on to have a huge input on the sound of The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Family and of course The Rolling Stones ("Let It Bleed" for Gawd's sake!). "Incense" regularly featured on all those Island/Sue label samplers you used to see at the end of the Sixties - the vocalist being Joe Webster and not Steve Winwood as many wrongly presumed (they were soundalikes). Smart choices too include The Kinks forgotten and at the time derided "See My Friends" (flange cool par excellence) and the kick-ass genius of "Too Many People" by The Leaves – wild harmonica vying with sliding guitars and a back beat that would make The Funk Brothers nod in approval. And how cool is Dylan's "From A Buick 6" – rocking it out like an unleashed brat in a year that saw everyone cover Bob songs (the Manfred Mann and Link Wray choices are very smart inclusions too - the latter highlighting a rare vocal from Link).

But what comes across even more potently across both CDs is the emergence and 'discovery' of Soul Music by white kids – tears in their eyes as they listen under the sheets to Pirate stations like Radio Luxembourg and Radio London. "Nowhere To Hide" has that driving beat but also a frustration and hurt - Edwin Starr is a hero for his "Agent Double-O Soul" - as joyful a genre tune as you could hope for and adopted as a near-anthem in the UK – and his Inner Funky Bad Self is already on display in Sly Stone’s astonishingly cool "Buttermilk Pt. 1" - where his vocal actually sounds like early Beefheart. And on it goes with Jackie Lee getting ants-in-his-pants as he walks like a Duck, Marvin Gaye feeling Peculiar about his latest girly - while the ladies of The Supremes bring it all to a satisfactory but aching close with "My World Is Empty Without You" (try to get over it Diana).

These kind of compilations are damn difficult to get right and for sure some will feel there are clunkers in amongst the goodies (overly familiar material as well). But having lived with its double-digital charms for days now - I'm loving "Jon Savage's 1965" and I urge you to blow your mind on it too...

2CD, 48-Track Titles in this JON SAVAGE Series are

1. Jon Savage's 1965: The Year The Sixties Ignited (January 2018 2CD set on Ace CDTOP2 1513 (Barcode 029667086028)
2. Jon Savage's 1966: The Year The Decade Exploded (October 2015 2CD set on Ace CDTOP2 1452 (Barcode 029667074223)
3. Jon Savage's 1967: The Year Pop Divided (March 2017 2CD set on Ace CDTOP2 1495 (Barcode 029667079525)
4. Jon Savage's 1968: The Year The World Burned (November 2018 2CD set on Ace CDTOP2 1536 (Barcode 029667092821)

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