Beat ’66 Show #4 – The Blurb

You can download Beat ’66 Show #4 here

While you’re listening, the following blurb may be of interest.

Play Loud.

SAM THE SHAM & THE PHAROAHS “Red Hot”

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs were unusual in several ways. To questions regarding the origins of the term “sham,” Samudio answered that it was “rhythm-and-blues jargon for shuffling, twisting or jiving around to music.” Before taking up the organ, Samudio “shammed” while he sang, so he found the term a fitting one for the band’s name. Also, being a novice on organ, he had to “sham” his way through playing. In addition, he and his fellow musicians were known for wearing Middle Eastern attire for their performances. Indeed, Samudio wore a “jewelled jacket and feathered turban.” He purchased a hearse that he called “Black Beauty” in which to haul his organ and his Leslie speaker, and the band toured in it from then on.

The song was originally performed by Billy Lee Riley and made an impression on the young Bob Dylan. At the Musicares Person Of The Year 2015 Dylan said:

“Billy Lee Riley became what is known in the industry, a condescending term by the way, as a one hit wonder. But sometimes, just sometimes, once in a while, a one hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star who’s got 20 or 30 hits behind him. And Billy’s hit song was called “Red Hot,” and it was red hot. It could blast you out of your skull and make you feel happy about it. Change your life.”

Technically Riley did have another hit in Flying Saucer Rock ‘N’ Roll but “Red Hot” is a killer song.

Recorded at Sun Records where Billy Lee Riley was competing for attention with the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. This stands up just fine against all those great artists:

ELVIS PRESLEY “Blue River”

Recorded in 1963 it was inexplicably shelved for a couple of years until it was released as a single in the UK in January 1966, reaching number 22, not bad considering that by then Elvis’s country rock sound was beginning to sound a bit old fashioned.

I love the home-made Youtube video that this guy has done for this song on Youtube, a real labour of love. Elvistheking35, Beat City salutes you!

THE ISLEY BROTHERS “This Old Heart Of Mine”

Funny how perceptions are different. I was totally under the impression that this song is among Motown’s most well-known, but for all its finger-clicking goodness a quick straw poll indicates that I’m in a minority.

For me this is the quintessential Motown track of this era. No intro beyond that trademark drum roll, then its straight into a groove that lasts for the rest of the track.

The song has been covered a few times but this is the best one I’ve found. Recorded in 1975 but only released in 2014, this is by the underrated Bettye Swann, who slows it right down and turns it into something else entirely.

MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS “Never Leave Your Baby’s Side”

If the Supremes had cut a song called “Never Leave Your Baby’s Side” then you’d just KNOW without hearing it that it was going to be a gooey loved-up number sung by a submissive-sounding Diana Ross.

The title is given a 180 degree twist here though. You can’t imagine any other female Motown singer delivering this performance. Martha Reeves takes a waspish “don’t mess with me boy” tone on the verses but there’s enough sugar and sweetness in the chorus for the casual listener to think its just a nice song about always being with your bay-bee. But the delivery of the line “watch out” is the giveaway.

Its the tale of a woman who doesn’t trust here man but she doesn’t sit around moping at home, she knows the score, that all men are the same in this respect, waiting to play around as soon as you turn your back. Not a song that could be covered in the present day without scornful – and lets face it accurate – accusations of an acceptance of How Men Are, but at the time this was as powerful a statement as a woman could make.

This song was the B-side to “My Baby Loves Me”, which actually WOULD sound more natural in the hands of the Supremes. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but I’d put a fiver on “Never Leave
Your Baby’s Side” having originally been scheduled as the A-side until they bottled out.

THE WHEELS “Bad Little Woman”

The Wheels (renamed The Wheel-A-Ways for the US release of this record, presumably to avoid confusion with Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels) came out of the same Belfast scene as Van Morrison’s Them – indeed, Morrison played saxophone in an early incarnation of The Wheels.

See the superb Garage Hangover for details on The Wheels and many other sixties garage rock bands.

THEM “My Lonely Sad Eyes”

The band may have been on the verge of collapse but that song indicates that they could still make a great record in early 1966. From the album Them Again that was My Lonely Sad Eyes, a pointer of what was to come from Van Morrison in his solo career.

LITTLE MILTON “We Got The Winning Hand”

This sneaked into the Billboard Hot 100 AT number 100 for one solitary week in early 1966. Little Milton with We Got The Winning Hand, backed with “Sometimey”:

MILLIE SMALL & JIMMY CLIFF “Hey Boy Hey Girl”

Millie Small is best known for The Hit (“My Boy Lollipop”) but she made some great records through the rest of the sixties and into the seventies. This track was made to give a boost to a young Jimmy Cliff, just starting out at the time.

http://www.popsike.com/RARE-Millie-Small-Ska-At-the-Jamaica-Playboy-Club-LP/4010036663.html

THE EYES “My Degeneration”

The B-side to the second single by mod hopefuls The Eyes is both funny and knowing.

The song contained references to “a cup of coffee or two” which in the vernacular of the time meant .. well, we all know what “coming back for a coffee” means don’t we? I believe the modern equivalent is “Netflix and Chill”.

The humourless souls at the Tea Board attempted to sue the band because they seemed to be taking liberties with the “Join the tea set” chorus. Britain, eh?

CRISPIAN ST PETERS “You Were On My Mind”

Crispian St Peters could well have gone down in music history as a one-hit wonder but an interview with the New Musical Express in which he claimed that he’d written 80 songs that were better than anything the Beatles had ever produced, and that he was a better singer than Tom Jones and Elvis Presley (claiming that his own stage moves made Elvis look like the Statue Of Liberty).

This controversy – unusual for a singer who only had the one hit to his name – helped propel the proto-flower-power anthem “I’m The Pied Piper” into the charts.

So he went down in music history as the first (and possibly the only) TWO-hit wonder.

THE CYCLONES & THE CHECKMATES “The Dew”

The Singapore pop scene was thriving in late 1965 and early 1966 with bands like Naomi & The Boys and The Crescendos becoming big stars in their home country with their version of beat music.

The Cyclones were a duo comprising James and Siva Choy and they’re backed by instrumental surf / beat group the Checkmates on this record. There’s more bending of the notes than you’d expect from Western proponents of the form, giving it a definite sound of its own.

NEAL HEFTI – “Batman Theme”

The classic theme from the Batman TV show which debuted in January 1966, covered many many times by the likes of Link Wray, The Ventures and The Jam but to be honest none of those versions are as good as Neal Hefti’s original.

This is one of Hefti’s previous film themes. from the Jean Harlow biopic “Harlow” that came out in 1965, an instrumental version of “Girl Talk” which works better without the lyrics to my mind.

SPENCER DAVIS GROUP “Keep On Running”

Written by Jamaican singer and songwriter Jackie Edwards, “Keep On Running” could have been designed with Stevie Winwood’s soaring voice in mind and provided the Spencer Davis Group with their biggest and most enduring hit.

This is Jackie Edwards’ original version.

LEE HAZLEWOOD “I Move Around”

Signed to MGM Records after writing hits for the likes of Duane Eddy and (most recently and effectively) Nancy Sinatra’s breakthrough single “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, Lee Hazlewood’s career as a solo artist had stuttered somewhat up to this point.

His first single for the label is classic Hazlewood, a slow, dreamlike country tune with heartbreaking lyrics sung with his trademark flat, world-weary delivery.
He also recorded his own strange version of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” complete with running commentary – note the comment at 2:09 or thereabouts in particular.

THE BEAU BRUMMELS “Sad Little Girl”

A tune too good to tuck away on a B-side – the allegedly more commercial A-side was a cover of The Loving Spoonful’s “Good Time Music”, but that only just scraped into the Hot 100.

If only they’d pushed “Sad Little Girl” instead, who knows what could have happened?

THE FOUR TOPS “Shake Me, Wake Me When It’s Over”

Motown were early adopters of recycling.

Following standard label practice, this single by the Four Tops was covered by the Supremes later in 1966, on the album The Supremes A Go-Go.

MARVIN GAYE “One More Heartache”

Marvin Gaye with what comes over as a gritty remake of Can I Get A Witness with its sparse cool opening and relentless groove that just builds and builds.

Much like the earlier “Can I Get A Witness” in its sparse, cool opening which then drops into a groove which just keeps on building.

The B-side “When I Had Your Love” is another hidden gem

THE KINKS “Never Met A Girl Like You Before”

“One of our aims is to stay amateurs. As soon as we become professionals we’ll be ruined” – Ray Davies from the sleeve notes to the expanded rerelease of the album “The Kink Kontroversy”

THE SEEKERS “The Carnival Is Over”

A lovely, sad end-of-a-love-affair song that can be taken literally or figuratively, either way its heartbreaking.

The Seekers are underrated by most music historians.

Judith Durham’s voice could make the phone book sound poignant, especially when set against the strong unison male backing vocals. This is their cover of a Paul Simon song, “Come The Day”.

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FESTIVE FIFTY YEARS AGO 1962 – Part Three

FESTIVE FIFTY YEARS AGO 1962 – PART THREE

December 29th 2012

Numbers 30-21 of the countdown, with some perhaps more familiar names as the chart gets closer to the top.

30) MARVIN GAYE – That Stubborn Kind Of Fella

Marvin Gaye’s first album consisted of jazz standards sung in a “black Sinatra” style which didn’t really pay off.

This single signalled a style change to a more soulful delivery, which paid off immediately after the mawkish “Soldier’s Plea”. It was Marvin’s first big hit, reaching No 8 in the US R&B chart and grazing the bottom end of the pop top 50.

29) MARY WELLS – I’m Gonna Stay

Mary Wells was the major female star at Motown during 1962, with the cruelly dubbed “No-hit Supremes” unable to produce a hit despite the label’s best attempts.

It’s a shame she’s only really remembered for “My Guy”, as she made so many other great records

This was the B-side to “The One Who Really Loves You” and is an equal, if not superior song. Peel would definitely have flipped the disc and played this more, as was his inclination.

28) HOWIE CASEY AND THE SENIORS – Twist At The Top

The first Mersey Beat band to make an album.

This would have been seized on by Peel’s Merseybeat-hip listeners.

(NB – the reason why very few Beatles songs are included here despite the Fabs doing three sessions in 1962 is because the tapes no longer exist. I could swing for the BBC sometimes, I really could.)

27) EVERLY BROTHERS – I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail

A surprising selection showing that the older listeners who had grown up the first wave of with rock’n’roll had (a) not abandoned the show and (b) developed more “mature” musical tastes.

The subject matter of the song would not really have reflected the lives of most of the Everly’s fans, but the delivery and passion are, as always, exemplary.

26) ELVIS PRESLEY – She’s Not You

Elvis achieves an operatic performance on this song, while maintaining genuine emotion.

I still maintain his baritone / basso profundo had the potential to wow ‘em at Bayreuth

Imagine him, dressed in robes, singing the role of Wotan in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Go on, imagine it.

Ah yes. No, you’re right. He couldn’t have sung opera. But this is better than bloody opera, anyway.

25) BOB DYLAN – You’re No Good

Side One, Track One of Bob Dylan’s first album.

This cheeky, raw take on Jesse Fuller’s song of rejection only lasts one minute and forty seconds but manages to define Dylan’s template for the next couple of years, complete with falling over the words, giggling, and an audacious harmonica solo.

24) DUANE EDDY – Dance With The Guitar Man

Duana Eddy’s “Peter Gunn” was, famously, John Peel’s second favourite record (I forget the first placed record) and he would have featured Duane Eddy’s work heavily.

This record, if you think about it, features backing vocals but no lead vocal, only Eddy’s trademark twangin’ gitar.

23) DEL SHANNON – Cry Myself To Sleep

“Runaway” reached Number One in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
This scraped into the Top Thirty in the UK and only reached No. 99 in the US, which was actually a slightly better performance then his previous two singles.

Seemingly, boys singing about their emotions didn’t strike much of a chord with record buyers.

Fools.

22) BEACH BOYS – 409

Although for shorthand purposes the Beach Boys are generally called a “surf band” they did songs about cars too.

This paean to the early 60s boy racers’ dream car, the Chevrolet 409, was the flip to the massive hit “Surfin’ Safari” and, in the days when B-sides were counted separately to A-sides, actually made the Hot 100 in its own right.

Not as well-known as their later hot rod song “Little Deuce Coupe” but still a great tune.

21) BOBBY “BORIS” PICKETT AND THE CRYPT-KICKERS – Monster Mash

Peel loved the occasional novelty record. Never forget that it was he who was responsible for getting Laurel and Hardy into the charts in the Seventies.

This one would have delighted as many of his listeners as it infuriated, I think.

That’s all for now. Back for the countdown of numbers 20-11 at 8pm on Saturday on Twitter (hashtag #festive50yearsago).

Stay cool, hep cats.

FESTIVE FIFTY YEARS AGO 1962 – PART TWO

December 27th, 2012

Welcome to the second part of the rundown of the Festive Fifty from 1962, or more accurately, my version of what might have appeared in the Festive Fifty in that year if John Peel had been (a) in the country (b) working for the BBC and (c) compiling a Festive Fifty. Enjoy!

40. LORD BLAKIE – Maria.

Lord Blakie was one of the lesser-known calypsonians to come out of Trinidad in the late fifties. Always in the shadow of the global superstar Mighty Sparrow, this was his finest hour, winning the first official “road march” with this song. He is so damn cool in this clip, too.

39. JET HARRIS – The Man With The Golden Arm.

Debut solo hit from the former Shadows bass player.

An off-the-cuff remark by Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch about Harris’ wife’s ongoing affair with Cliff Richard(!) led to Harris quitting the band in April 1962.

A mere four months later he was in the chart with this brilliant, searing arrangement of the theme from the 1955 Frank Sinatra film.

The subject matter of the film – heroin addiction – could be seen as a statement from Harris about his own addiction problems, although these involved the bottle rather than the needle.

38. GINO PARKS – Fire.

A massive blast of angry noise which was very much out of sync with the vast majority of Motown’s early 60s output.

Gino Parks can be said to have been ahead of his time – this record certainly was, by two or three years.

Unfortunately Berry Gordy’s ideas about what the “Motown sound” should be meant no place for this kind of record , and Parks had few further opportunities at the label.

37. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – I’m Not Angry.

A B-side which would undoubtedly have received more airplay on Peel’s show than its more famous A-side “Crying In The Rain”.

In 1977 Elvis Costello included a track with the same title on his debut album, and the similarities go beyond the title to include the meaning and intent of the protagonist.

By the end of both songs, the listener is left in no doubt that the guy in the song is fooling nobody, let alone himself.

36. THE VENTURES – My Bonnie Lies
Never massive in their home country in the same way their UK rivals The Shadows were in theirs, nevertheless The Ventures laid the instrumental groundwork for the surf sound that formed the second (ahem) wave of American rock’n’roll music.

This record, a hepped-up reworking of an old weepie, was only a minor hit, but its inclusion here can be traced to another, vocal version of the song that was popular in this year (in the UK at least).

35. RAY CHARLES – Half As Much

In which Ray Charles really pulls out all the showstopping stops and creates a huge, fat middle of the road record that is a million miles away from “What I’d Say”. The piano playing and voice are more restrained but still classic.

34. GENE CHANDLER – Duke Of Earl

In a later era, the likes of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey would make careers out of doing voice exercises to music, but this was probably the first worldwide hit record to be created out of a doo-wop band’s warm-up routine.

Neither a fast doo-wop number or a slow ballad, its intermediate pacing made it stand out and it went to No. 1 in the early weeks of 1962.

33. ELVIS PRESLEY – Return To Sender

Elvis’s career was at least as much about making films by 1962 as it was about making music, and this song was one of the highlights from the bikini classic “Girls Girls Girls”.

32. BOB DYLAN – Talkin’ New York

If you can argue – and you can – that the truest work of an artist is in his early, penniless, hungry years, then how much truer is that of folk music, where honesty is the most prized, maybe the only, virtue?

This is one of the two self-compositions on Dylan’s first album, and it’s a cracker, honest and true, detailing Dylan’s experiences on arriving in the Big Apple as a 20-year-old singer and trying to get noticed.

“New York Times said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years
I didn’t feel so cold then”

31. LITTLE OTIS HAYES – I Out-Duked The Duke

Answer Records were a great tradition of the fifties and sixties, briefly being revived as a record industry stunt with “F.U.R.B”, a record which didn’t really live up to it’s illustrious predecessors of two or three generations ago.

This one is a belter. Little Otis takes the basis of the tune of “Duke Of Earl” and gleefully rips out a derogatory lyric about how he “popped the Dook’s girl” while he was out of town. Magnificent.

So, tomorrow evening it’s numbers 30-21. See you then.