Cover Versions, demo, Double Nugget, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

I Got 96 Tears and 96 Eyes*

Right from the off, with its rinky dink 2 note Vox Continental organ riff and garage backbeat, 96 Tears is just about the perfect record. Released in 1966 by ? & the Mysterians, it was one of those songs like Louie Louie or Wild Thing that went on to be recorded by everyone and anyone with a fuzz guitar and a hip ear to the underground. It has in its time gone on to sell over a million copies and had over 3 million airplays.


Not bad for a band of Mex-Americans from Michigan with a love of surf music and a well thought out marketing ploy – have an unusual name and an even more unusual singer. It might’ve helped record sales when their lead singer claimed to be a martian who had lived with dinosaurs in a past life. Yep. Or when he claimed to have visited other planets and periods in time. Uh huh. I once had a drama teacher who would say to the class, “I‘m going to turn my back and when I turn around again, I’ll be in character….(….pause….)…Beowulf!!!” Rudy Martinez must’ve been a bit liked this.  He never went out without his sunglasses and only answered to his chosen moniker ‘?’, rather than his given ‘Rudy’, the name his mother preferred to shout when he was listening to his Van Morrison and Them records too loudly. If you’ve ever heard a ? and the Mysterians album, you’ll know how much a debt they owe to wee Van. If not, the ‘96 Tears‘ or ‘The Action‘ albums are good places to start.

96 Tears features regularly when my iPod is on shuffle. Most days will see an appearance of one version or another pop up. I’ve got what seems like 96 versions of it, most fairly pointless faithful recreations of the garage stomping original (Hello, Stranglers! Hello Music Explosion! I’m looking at you, Inspiral Carpets! You built an entire (early) career out of its Nuggety groove.) There’s one or two that take the original and mess with it so much, it just seems like the’d recorded a few minutes of pointless FM static and looped it ad infinitum (Hey there Primal Scream! Stop hiding at the back Suicide – how apt a name.)  Favourites?  Todd Rundgren‘s lo-fi fuzz-bassed studio demo is right up there, Aretha Franklin‘s soulful and (at first unrecognisable) version from Aretha Arrives is classic Aretha, with an almost Respect-like backing. Big Maybelle‘s a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ version, all Stax-inspired southern soul groove, underpinned by clipped guitars and a (bold as) brass section first came to my attention on 6 Music’s excellent Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul Show and has been on constant rotation ever since. Then there’s Gerardo Manuel & El Humo‘s super-heavy epic prog rock take. Think Iron Butterfly on jellies. It’s a grower, trust me!

Go fill yer boots…

96 Tears – ? & the Mysterians

96 Tears – Big Maybelle

96 Tears – Aretha Franklin

96 Tears – Gerardo Manuel & El Humo

96 Tears – Primal Scream

96 Tears – Inspiral Carpets

96 Tears – Music Explosion

96 Tears – Todd Rundgren

*…and I can’t believe I don’t have/can’t find a version by The Cramps, so here‘s Human Fly, featuring the line in the title at the top.

Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Edgar Jones is a dude. Variously, he’s been a pipe-cleaner thin, bowl-headed 60s revivalist, Paul Weller’s bassman of choice, an Andrew Oldhamesque pop svengali, even a Merseyside Duke Ellington. He’ s had his long fingers in many a musical pie and I can guarantee you that anything he’s been involved in has been (and will be) boss, la.

20 or so years ago you would usually find me hanging about at Shabby Road Studios in Kilmarnock, home to chart non-botherers the Trash Can Sinatras (3 words in those days) and a handful of local bands with one half-cocked eye on the prize and no chance of getting it. The band I played in had a rehearsal room there and as I worked in Kilmarnock I was usually first to rehearsal. Often, I’d pop upstairs for a cup of tea and a chat with some of the Trash Cans and whoever else was about. Seemingly, Go! Discs advance had all been spent on the studio itself and some rattly old vintage Vox amps because they never, NEVER! had any milk for the tea. Over the course of my time as a (and I use this term loosely) musician I met a fair few coulda beens, shoulda beens and also rans, as well as the odd bona fide gin-u-wine chart success (Hello, Chas Smash) in the kitchen at Shabby Road and it was during one of these milkless tea breaks that I met Edgar Jones and his mop-topped, mono-obsessed band of merry men that comprised The Stairs.

The Stairs were recording some stuff for Go! Discs at Shabby Road. But rather than use the studio’s own desk, they had brought with them a handful of dusty old bits ‘ n bobs straight outta the 60s as well as their own 4 track recorder. From downstairs in my rehearsal room they sounded great. They were brilliant musicians. They only needed 3 chords and had a garage swagger that I was still to recognise as being Nuggety. One of them (the ginger one in the middle) had broken a guitar string and came into the kitchen looking for one, to no avail. “I’ve got one!” I said and ran downstairs to get it. I’m sure he’d have said something like “Ta la!” but I can’t remember. He was thankful though, for the next night he popped into the kitchen to give me a 7″ copy of the Weed Bus ep.

Borrowing the Bo Diddley beat from The Who’s Magic Bus and welding on the riff from the Stones The Last Time, Weed Bus sings of the joys of smoking on the top deck of the bus. And I don’t think they mean Silk Cut, if you know where I’m at. “It’s the 147 and you know you’re in hevuhn!” barks Edgar.

Second single Woman Gone And Say Goodbye came complete with a Stax house band riff, cowbells and the faint whiff of Hendrix. It‘s a belter. And in case you missed any of their wee reefer references, by the time the Mexican R’n’B album had came out, they were writing Glitter Band stomping songs like Mary JoannaYou are always on my mind“. It was so good they released it as their third single, to little fanfare anywhere other than my head. The 7″ even came with a free bit of sandpaper stickered with the legend ‘Stairtex Record Cleaner‘.

‘The use of new STAIRTEX provides an effective means of ensuring groove cleanliness essential to good reproduction. Its regular use will lengthen the life of the record and reduce the static charge. Destroys all compact discs. Available from (record) dealers. This side LPs. Other side CDs’

And then The Stairs disappeared. Their withdrawn 2nd LP finally saw the light of day only a couple of years ago. Edgar went on to various things (see first paragraph) and still operates on the periphery today. I last saw him at King Tuts about 3 years ago where he was playing (brilliant) bass in Candie Payne’s band – another of those shoulda been, coulda been acts. He’s the real deal, in music for all the right reasons. He’s worth looking up if you get the chance. In the meantime, enjoy the three slices of The Stairs that I’ve made available to you. And check your pennies then check eBay for the long out of print Mexican R’n’B album.

I once played football in the ‘garden’ at Shabby Road with Half Man Half Biscuit. But that’s another story.

Double Nugget, Gone but not forgotten

Go Compare.com

Here’s some proof, if any was really needed, that everything in music has been done before and will be done again to the nth degree. A regular visitor to these pages once pointed out to me how similar The Libertines ‘Last Post on the Bugle’ sounded to Australian psych-heads The Masters Apprentices 1967 track ‘War Or Hands Of Time’. Making a mental note I promised to myself I’d listen to both records back to back before writing a bit about them.

The Masters Apprentices

I’d forgotten all about this shallow promise until the other day when The Masters Apprentices track shuffled up on my iPod. And I didn’t recognise it at first. “I don’t remember putting those Libertines demos on here,” I thought. Then it clicked. It wasn’t the Libertines. It was ‘War Or Hands Of Time’. And it sounded an awful lot like ‘Last Post On The Bugle‘. It really does. 

Johnny Thunders Pete Doherty

A check on the sleevenotes of the self-titled Libertines second album reveals a wee clue – Last Post On The Bugle is jointly published by EMI and MCA/Universal Music Publishing. A further bit of internet digging reveals that the track is written by Doherty/Barat/Bower. Doherty and Barat you’ll know…..but you may not know that Bower is (presumably) Michael Bower, guitarist with The Masters Apprentices. Voila! Not quite an admission of theft from Pete ‘n Carl (there’s no writing credit on the album sleeve), but nonetheless, they’ve given half the publishing over to a long forgotten hippy living on the other side of the world.

War Or Hands Of Time

When I turn cold, I will be thinking of you
When I’m far away, try to remember what I said
The day I live, I’ll still be dreaming of your love
Wait for the clouds to pass your way
Wait for me I’ll be back some day

Whereas the original track was written about a soldier embracing his sweetheart before heading off to war, Doherty keeps the melody and rewrites the song’s original lyrics to address the break up of his friendship with Carl Barat and The Libertines.

Last Post On The Bugle

If I have to go
I will be thinking of your love
Oh somehow you’ll know
You will know
Thinking of your love
Slyly they whispered away
As I played the last post on the bugle

Go Compare! As I said, proof that everything in music has been done before. Proof, also, that junkies will steal just about anything. Even the melody from an old long-forgotten slice of Antipodean psychedelic rock.

It’s a fair cop, guv etc etc

 

Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

Denny Laine is in my ears and in my eyes

S’another couple of tracks in my fairly infrequent Double Nuggets series, where I take a couple of rarely heard gems from the 60s and thrust them centre-stage and under the spotlight and give them their 15 minutes of fame.

First up, Say You Don’t Mind by Denny Laine’s Electric String Band. Recorded and released in Year Zero for psych-heads (1967) betwixt and between Laine’s stints in the Moody Blues and Wings, this track is pastoral English baroque-pop personified. Deram had high hopes for the single, but it wasn’t until 1972 that former Zombie Colin Blunstone helped it into the charts with his own version. Ironic, really, as Say You Don’t Mind would give anything from the Zombies Odessey & Oracle album a good run for it’s money. A glass-half-full optimistic strumalong full of upbeat joy (you get the idea), if you like yer Paul Weller pastoralised (is that even a word?) or yer Foxes Fleet of foot, this track’s for you.

Next, a band who came straight outta Mod Central. Sounding naffink like the track above, Brighton-based Penny Peeps were named (my grandfather tells me) after those saucy seaside gizmos you could put a penny in and see a girl undressing. Cheeky scamps. This is a band who, had they been invented way back then, would’ve had The Who’s first album on constant repeat on the old iPod. The guitars ring like Townshend’s and the backing vocals ‘ooh‘ and ‘ahh‘ like a lost demo of Substitute (listen out too for the “I can sit for hours and hours and hours and hours” line just after the minute mark – pure ‘oo!) Aye. A harmony-heavy hammond-enhanced mod stomping 2 minutes 54 seconds, these kids are alright. Here you go.

Cover Versions, Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

Sounds like Bowie? Oh Yeah!

The Shadows Of Knight were a genre-straddling garage punk band from mid 60s Chicago. Taking their cue from The Yardbirds, The Who, The Stones, The etcs etcs blah blah blah, they are as well known on the northern soul scene for ‘Shake‘ as they are on the garage circuit for their feedback soaked version of Them’s ‘Gloria‘. Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets album included this, their version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Oh Yeah’.

shadows-of-knight

A garage stomper of a track, guitars drop in and out of the mix. The rhythm section takes it down. The singer whispers. The rhythm section section takes it up again. The singer screams. The guitars scream. The girls in the audience probably screamed as well. David Bowie was clealry taking notes. The similarity between Oh Yeah and Jean Genie is bordering on the criminal. But you knew that already.

Has anybody seen Kosher Pickle Harry?” ask The Premiers at the start of Farmer John, their 1964 universally accepted garage classic. Welding the rhyhtms of Louie Louie and Wild Thing (of course) onto a standard 1950s croon-fest proved a success, given that this track reached the giddy heights of number 19 on the charts before the group disappeared from view forever.

the premiers

Farmer John is seemingly recorded live at some Animal House type frat house party. Girls whoop and cheer, everyone sings the backing vocals and a rocking good time is seemingly had by all. In fact, the track was recorded to 3 tracks in the studio before the band invited their pals in to hear the record for the first time. The engineer at the desk used the 4th track to record the sounds of the studio party and mixed it across the top.

Neil Young liked this track so much he took to covering it live in concert at the start of the 90s. He turned it into a bucketful of grunge and sucked the life out of it, but, hey hey my my, if he hadn’t covered it, I’d never have gone out of my way to dig out the original. So a backhanded ‘thanks‘ to him for that. And remember folks, as the saying goes, “If you dug it, it’s a nugget!”

Cover Versions, demo, Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

Them was rotten days

Going to see a band these days is far too expensive. Yer enormodome megastars like U2, Springsteen, AC/DC etc etc charge a small fortune. Yer second string enormodomers like Coldplay, Oasis, (insert your own choice here) etc etc can get away with charging similar fortunes. Even relatively minor league acts are asking you to stump up anything upwards of £15 to hear their one album’s worth of whining nonsense. And why? Cos in this day and age, when folk (like me) illegally share music, the artist has realised that the only way to make money is on the road. That’s why live music has never been so bouyant.  Even Madonna is out and about playing a football stadium near you. You can’t download the live experience. Aye, you can download a Dylan concert the minute he’s off stage. And you can watch umpteen YouTube shaky camera phone videos of Paul McCartney on stage with Neil Young even before the last bit of feedback has fizzled out. What you can’t do is download the actual in-yer-face gig. And until you can, your favourite artists will continue getting away with charging you the price of feeding a family of four for a week. But you knew that already.

blur ticket

It wasn’t always like this. I saw Blur for £1! (see above). I paid £4 on the door the first time I saw the Stone Roses. Even their famous Alexandra Palace gig was only £8.50. And they were massive by this point. I’ve tons of tickets for concerts I’ve been to where I’ve paid a fiver or less. Sure, that first Stone Roses concert was 20 years ago. Blur was 18. I’m no economist, but surely the price of gig tickets these days outstrips the rate of inflation?

ticket

I saw the Inspiral Carpets loads of times. So named after one band member commented on his fellow band member’s mum’s orange and brown 70s living room carpet, the first time I saw them they were supporting the Wedding Present in the Barrowlands. I thought they sounded like the Teardrop Explodes; swirly organ, 60s references, bowl cuts and all that. Every song sounded like ‘Reward‘. I was hooked. I kept my fingers poised over the pause button of my tape recorder during John Peel shows and I kept my eyes peeled on the gig pages of NME. I went to see them all the time. I paid £3.50 to see them in the bar at Glasgow Tech. A quick visit to their merchandise stall to purchase 2 ‘Cool As Fuck’ badges (lost on the way home) and a demo tape called Dung 4 cost me a further £3.60. Add a couple of student-bar-priced watery pints  and you can see that I had a great night out for a tenner.

Inspiral Carpets - DUNG 4

Keep the Circle Around

Seeds Of Doubt

Joe

Causeway

Inside My Head

Sun Don’t Shine

Theme From Cow

Butterfly

26

Garage Full Of Flowers

96 Tears

A couple of weeks ago I dug out that old demo tape and converted it into mp3 files. It’s very much of it’s time, but still sounds pretty good. If you’re in anyway into Farfisa-led 60s influenced tunes sung by a shouty guy called Steve (these songs are pre Tom Hingley fame era) then it’s for you. Some of the tracks appeared polished and shiny down the line on the Rare As Fuck Plane Crash ep.  Others crept onto 7″ b sides or re-appeared in future Peel Sessions. If you’re a fan of Inspiral Carpets you’ll know most of them. If not, it’s as good a place to start as any. This tape was the one thing that convinced me I had seen the future of rock n roll. And it wasn’t called Bruce Springsteen.  

Inlay

The Inspiral Carpets occasionally gave out a newsletter. By issue 4 it had become known as the moos-letter. Here’s the one I got round about the time I saw them in Glasgow Tech and bought the tape that you’re just about to download.

find out why 1

find out why 2 3

find out why 4

Footnote:

I meant to write in my original post that about a year after the Glasgow Tech gig, I saw the Inspiral Carpets again at Strathclyde University. This was round about the time Noel Gallagher was roadying for them. The band were outside unloading their van and I took the chance to get them to sign the inside of my Levis denim jacket. They all signed it (apart from the singer who was, to quote the roadie (Noel?), “away shaggin'”). Clint Boon drew the cow logo and wrote “Inspirals ’89” underneath it. I think my sister nicked the jacket about a year later. Pre-eBay, I don’t know where it ended up…

Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

Slave To The Rhythm Method

You’ll need a good scrub in the bath after listening to some of these tracks…

Probably long before Little Richard even though about hollering “Tutti Frutti, Oh Rudi“, pop music has been awash with sexual reference and innuendo. Island Records’ current celebration of their 50th birthday found me thinking about ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, the Grace Jones hit from 1981.

grace jones bumper

The elastic band bassline (courtesy of Sly and Robbie’s Robbie), pattering percussion and honking horns can’t disguise the fact that this track is downright filthy. Taken at lyrical face value it would appear to be about driving through city streets at night, cruising the scene looking for action. So far, so very 80s. The fact that it’s sung by a woman might change your perception of it a wee bit, but if you know anything about Grace Jones you’ll be well aware of her appetite for life’s little pleasures.

grace jones cage

It should therefore come as no surprise when you read between the lyrics and discover that Pull Up To The Bumper is really an open invitation to come and get it.

Driving down those city streets,
Waiting to get down,
Want to ditch your big machine,
Somewhere in this town?

You’ll find the proper place,
Just follow all the written rules,
You’ll fit into the space.

Now in the park and lock garage,

Pull up to my bumper baby,
In your long black limosine,
Pull up to my bumper baby,
And drive it in between.

Pull up, to it, don’t drive, through it,
Back it, up twice, now that, fit’s nice.

back up I’ll pump your tire baby

We operate around the clock,
So won’t you please come in?
There’s lot’s of space for everyone,
Plus one for you my friend?

The lines are short,
I’ll fix you up so won’t you please come on,
That shiny, sleek machine you wheel,
I’ve got to blow your horn.

Pull up to my bumper baby,
In your long black limosine,
Pull up to my bumper baby,
Drive it in between.

Pull up to it, don’t drive through it,
Back it, up twice, now that fits nice,
Grease it, spray it, let me luricate it,
Pull up to my bumper baby.

See what I mean? There’s a multitude of versions out there. In addition to the original version from the Nightclubbing album (see above), there’s a nice early version from the Compass Point studio sessions (I think). There’s also an extended 12″ (uh-huh) version, which is basically the unedited final version of the album track. Larry Levan, Paradise Garage house DJ supremo took that version and updated it to a sleeker, club-friendly version.  This version reminds me a whole lot of..

Prince bw

‘Lady Cab Driver’ by Prince. Shuffling percussion? Check! Rinky-dink funk guitar? Check! Honking horns? Check! Suggestive lyrics? Check, although Prince isn’t as suggestive as Grace Jones, he’s more straight ahead and right to the point. Of course, the purple headed perv is no stranger to such things. But you knew that already. But have you heard the alternate mix of ‘Erotic City?

clique

The easily offended should cover their ears and look away now. The Clique are a mysterious band. The ying to Grace Jones yang, their track ‘Bareback Donkey Riding’ was recorded in 1995 by Mr Lo-fi himself, Liam ‘Friend of Jack White’ Watson at ToeRag Studios. But if you didn’t know that, you would be let off for thinking this track was recorded by some enthusiastic mid-western garage band in 1964. Heavy on the hammond, distortion and passionate vocals, it’s a Nugget-friendly no hit wonder. But have a listen to some of the lyrics…

Well here we are again

It’s you and me my friend

Let’s go throught he same routine

We’ll get there in the end

 

Last night she went away

Didn’t want to stay

Packed her bags and called a cab

I guess it’s not my day

 

If I could find a girl who’d like to hold the reigns

We could carry on our sordid lovers games

Bareback Donkey Riding! Bareback Donkey Riding!

Let’s go through the same routine? Beg beg beg! What d’you mean “not tonight?” Sounds like his girl left him because he wanted to do something that she didn’t. ‘Bareback‘? No protection? Another word for donkey? I’ll leave you to work out what it all means. I might be wrong…

*BONUS TRACK. Here‘s the Serge Santiago Special Edit of Grace Jones‘  ‘Slave To The Rhythm’.

Cover Versions, Double Nugget, Dylanish, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

Like A Rolling Stone quadruple-whammy

Probably Bob Dylan‘s most famous song, Like A Rolling Stone shows no sign of gathering moss just yet. He’s still playing it live to this day, and unusually for 21st Century Bob, it sounds fairly similar to the original 1965 version released on Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan loves playing around with songs, changing them, playing them in different keys and in diferent tempos (LARS was originally in 3/4 waltz time). If you get him on a good night, he might have told the band that the key has changed before they start playing it. On a great night (Barrowlands 2004) he might even conduct the lucky few in the room in a bit of a singsong. “We musta played that song a thousand times and ain’t nobody ever kept up with us.” For Bob to say anything to his audience, never mind a dish out praise as flattering as that, is rare indeed. Given that Bob likes to change his songs so much, I’m sure The Old Zim would like, even dig, the versions below.

jimihendrixmontereykl3

How does it feel? Burny, of course

I say ‘dig’ because, as you no doubt know, in between changing the sound of the rock guitar forever and before disappearing somewhere down flare city, Jimi Hendrix was Dylan fan numero uno back in the 60s. His version is from the Monterey Music Festival in 1967. It’s long, bluesy and uh, kinda groovy. Yeah, dig brother (You get the idea). Jimi set fire to his guitar at the end of this show. Everyone thinks he did this all the time on stage, but he didn’t. Monterey was one of those rare occassions.

mick-ronson

Another guitar hero who had a bash at LARS was Mick Ronson. Redolent with full-on Ziggy Les Paul power chords and rather shitty sounding drums, this version is remarkable in that it features David Bowie on vocals. It wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Pin Ups’ (my 2nd favourite Bowie album, just behind Hunky Dory). Choc-full of spectacular guitar sounds, it twangs, squeals and screeches it’s way from beginning to end in just over 4 minutes.

creation_pic

The Creation were a pslightly psych garage rock band from England. But you probably knew that too. They famously described their music as ‘red with purple flashes’ and for most of the time this was true. Obviously, Alan McGee was a fan. Obviously. ‘Making Tyme’, ‘How Does It Feel?’ ‘Painter Man’ (aye, later done by Boney M) are all fantastic speed/acid fuelled foot-to-the-floor romps throught the tale-end of the 60s. Shame, then, that their version of LARS is so tame. Given that Bob was something of a Holy Grail for many of these musicians, it’s possible that The Creation were just paying too much respect to the tune. I don’t know, but listening to it doesn’t really conjure up the red and purple flashes I’d like.

soupgreens

Oh smile, ffs

The same cannot be said for The Soup Greens. Recorded in just one take, this is garage band rock at it’s finest. The Soup Greens have the distinction of making LARS sound like Louie Louie or Wild Thing, and given that that’s pretty much the only songs they knew before recording this (there are only 8 known Soup Greens recordings in existence), it makes perfect sense. There’s echo, twang, Farfisa organ and that nagging insistant beat that Julian Cope clearly heard and ripped off before passing it off as an original recording. Back in the mid 80s, Cope was indeed flying in the face of fashion, but World Shut Your Mouth would not have been possible without this record, that much is clear. Even with the vinyl snaps, crackles and pops, it. Is. A. Belter.

Bonus Track. You know that song Groovin’? “Groovin’ waah-waah-wah (harmonica riff) on a Sunday afternoon waah-wah-wah” It was by The Rascals. Before they became The Rascals, they were the Young Rascals. If you watch The Beatles at At Shea Stadium closely (google it – it’s downloadable!) you’ll spot a ‘The Young Rascals Are Coming’ banner. That’s them. They do a fairly good West Coast version of LARS. You can hear it here. Cheerio!

Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

‘I Need You’ Double Nugget Double Whammy

‘I Need You’ first appeared as the b-side of The Kinks‘ 1965 single ‘See My Friends’. A proto-punk garage band belter of a track, it starts of with some nifty Dandy Dave Davis feedback and continues kicking and screaming it’s way through some clattering drum breaks, decent ‘aaah-aaah’ backing vocals and the obligatory screaming guitar solo before ending in exactly the same fashion as ‘All Day And All Of The Night’. These days you can get it as one of the extra tracks on the CD reissue of ‘Kinda Kinks’, or on the first disc of the hit ‘n’ miss 6 CD Kinks box set, ‘Picture Book’. Or you can get it here.

 

kinks-roof

The Kinks. Of Kourse.

The Rationals came from Detroit. Arguably the first in a long line of classic garage blues bands from the area (Amboy Dukes/Iggy & the Stooges/MC5/Mitch Ryder/White Stripes/Soledad Brothers/Dirtbombs/Detroit Cobras/ etc etc etc), like most beat groups of their era they took up arms after being wooed by the sounds of The Who, The Kinks, The Stones and that other lot a-blasting across the Atlantic.

rationals

Guess who?

Using The Kinks version as a blueprint for their brief career, The Rationals’ 1968 version of ‘I Need You’ replicates the original, right down to the gutterpunk feedback at the start. Difference is, their version is about twice as fast and twice as raw. Better screaming guitar solo too.

I went to see John McCusker, Roddy Woomble and Kris Drever play last night. They were fantastic. They were supported by Boo Hewerdine and a girl called Heidi who could really sing. Even the first support act, 2 local teenage lads, one dressed like he was off to see Green Day, the other calling himself Tragic O’Hara were decent. They finger picked their way through a brief set of ‘my women done gone and left me and all I got left is this here empty bottle‘ type stuff. A bit cliched perhaps, but give them time. It was busy too. I’m telling ya, folk is the new indie. Keep it up lads!  

Listening to the ‘hip‘ output on BBC6 Music this week, it’s clear we really need records/artists like these above. If bands like Bloc Party can continually get away with releasing records that sound like a half-finished argument with Pro-Tools and White Lies are ‘the next big thing’, I think I might find myself mining by-gone eras for hidden treasure. Keep visiting to find out!

Cover Versions, Double Nugget, Hard-to-find

It’s The Aptly-Named Billy Fury!

Billy Fury. Your granny knows him from such staple Hit Parade fodder as ‘Halfway To Paradise’, ‘Wondrous Place’, ‘Last Night Was Made For Love’….. do I need to go on? Billy and Cliff Richard battled it out for the dubious tag of ‘British Elvis’, but the more sussed among us really knew that Elvis was in fact the ‘American Billy’.

billy-fury

Upturned collar? Check. Lip curl? Check. Half-collapsed quiff? Check. Forget the songs listed above and instead listen to this. ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ But The Leaves On The Trees‘ is a hand clappin’ enhanced primal rocker that could’ve sat neatly on any Nuggets-type compilation you care to mention. How Fury got from garage band howling blues to slush like ‘Colette‘ is anyone’s guess but, wow, when he was on form there was clearly no-one like him. His manager obviously gave him his stage moniker round about this time, otherwise he’d have been forever known to the world as Billy Ballad. Incidentally, The Beatles version of ‘Nothin’ Shakin’…‘ can be found on their ‘At The BBC’ album. It sounds pish.

Morrissey was a big fan, so much so that he nicked half his look from Fury. Look here.  As too are those talented wee fuckers in The Last Shadow Puppets. They stuck their own version of ‘Wondrous Place’ on the b-side of their ‘The Age Of The Understatement‘ single. Understated indeed – a churchy organ, some brooding bass, a top vocal and some Duane Eddy twang halfway through. What I like about this lot is that they all look similar, they even sound similar when they sing and they are clearly very talented. A bit like The Beatles. But then, obviously nothing like The Beatles. I’ve already posted their version of Bowie‘s ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’ (here) and if they keep up their high standards of self-imposed quality control I think these two youngsters could be around for years to come. A bit like The Beatles. But then, obviously as I’ve already said, nothing like The Beatles as well.

dave-berry

2 more decent UK garage band rockers to follow. These days, Dave Berry may be more comfortable touring the country in those terrible 60s nostalgia shows alongside such 3rd divison outfits as The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Tremeloes. Back in the day he was equally comfortable blasting out tough R&B tunes as he was crooning pop ballads. One such record was July 1964’s‘The Crying Game’ (number 5, fact fans), much later also a hit for Boy George. The A-side was the pop ballad. The B-side was something else entirely. Along with his backing band The Cruisers, he came up with this proto-punk snarling rabid dog of a record. ‘Don’t Give Me No Lip Child’ is a belter, and given that the Sex Pistols strangled and choked it into something resembling a cover version, John Lydon thought so too.

lip-child-label

Before they became The Who, The High Numbers released ‘I’m The Face’. The sound of Swinging London, it was written by Peter Meaden, their amphetamine-fuelled manager stroke publicist. This tune is essentially Slim Harpo‘s ‘Got Love If You Want It’ with new lyrics designed to reflect the culture of the times – a classic mod-stomper of a record that was a paen to all things Modern (not modern). Of course, as is more often than not the way with fantastic records, the single was a flop. According to some sources, the only copies that were actually sold were bought by Meaden himself, in a crap attempt at chart rigging. Ivy League jackets. Buck skin shoes. I’m the face baby, is that clear? Clear as crystal, little Roger!

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