Get This!, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Most downloaded tracks, Yesterday's Papers

Yesterday’s Papers – Coke After Coke After Coke After Coca Cola

Yesterday’s Papers is my way of infrequently getting new life out of carefully selected old posts. It’s terrific that new readers seem to find Plain Or Pan on a daily basis and often request particular pieces of music which, for one reason or another no longer have working links. There’s also some stuff on here that I, being vain and narcissistic, still enjoy reading and, even though I would like to take an editor’s pen to the text and re-write much of it, I think new and not so new readers might enjoy reading it too.

Every Yesterday’s Papers post is presented exactly as it was written when it first appeared on Plain Or Pan, apart from the odd spelling mistake or grammatical error that escaped my editorial eye first time around. Oh, and the links to the music have all been updated too.

First appeared March 19, 2007

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Hey! Get down! Dig it with the Vanilla Fudge and Coca Cola! My mum tells me that in the swinging 60s, most provincial teenagers never had access to, never mind actually try, the mind-bending drugs that were so obviously shaping music, fashion and the consciousness of society. Instead, the hip, with-it teenagers in my wee corner of the west of Scotland would pop a couple of aspirins into their Coca Cola and swing the night away in a tripped-out approximation of sixties bliss.

Coca Cola were well aware that things indeed go better with a Coca Cola, and their 60′s marketing team were so on the ball that they got the groups du jour to record Coke jingles for local radio and the likes. Most of these jingles are bloody magic. They are quite blatant pastiches of those artists’ current hit singles and fall into 3 distinct categories:

  • 1. The soul/r’n’b artist – Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Carla Thomas, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Ray Charles etc etc
  • 2. The fuzzed-out, beat-driven, blues-influenced garage bands – The Who, Vanilla Fudge, Troggs, Box Tops, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Titch (so that stretches it a bit, but you get the point)
  • 3. The pop stars/crooners – Bee Gees, Lulu, Roy Orbison, Petula Clark, Nancy Sinatra, etc.

Here are three examples of the above. The Who’s Coke after Coke, The Supremes pastiche ofBaby Love and Tom Jones’ rerun ofIt’s Not Unusual that is quite fantastic, hilarious and hideous all at the same time. “Say, I could do with a Coke right now. Somebody get me one please?” The big orange freak.


Did someone order a Tango?

I’ll put up more of these soon. Next up Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Sinatra, Vanilla Fudge, any requests…..

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

Who’s Nicked

A few years back, as a mature student in desperate need of income, I ran a wee guitar group. Obviously, far better than working a shift in B&Q, I was my own boss and set my own rules. 30 folk of all ages and abilities formed 3 groups of 10 who came to the local community centre to learn the difference between a b-minor and a blues lick and play along to a wide selection of recognised classics, with the odd personal favourite thrown in. Not only that, but along the way these eager students were educated in the ways of guitarists and guitar playing. Steve Cropper was more important than Slash, I’d tell them. Johnny Marr was better than Eric Clapton. Jimi Hendrix played guitar behind his back with his teeth. Try it! First person to play an E minor gets a mini Mars Bar. The beginners loved shaking their hair to The Ramones Surfin Bird, even if they had difficulty changing from an A to a D and back again at the same speed as Johnny and Dee Dee. Over time though, they managed to do a spot-on version of These Boots Are Made For Walking, complete with their own wee choreographed foot dance when Nancy asks, “Are you ready boots? Start walkin'”. The best players in the ‘top group’ could replicate Stairway To Heaven note for note. Well, almost. But my greatest achievement was with the ‘middle group’. Accomplished enough that they could play blues licks in b minor, but not yet fluid enough to think they were Slash, I taught them to windmill like Pete Townshend through the opening bars of The Who‘s Baba O’ Riley. It was a magic sight. 10 arms windmilling round in perfect time. Wind Out -mill! here Wind in -mill! the Wind fields -mill! Some nights we played it 3 or 4 times, such was their joy at playing it. What’s that Roger? Teenage wasteland? Not in here! Happy days!

Anyway, after what I’ve just said, you may be surprised to learn that I never totally got The Who. I thought Keith Moon was pretty special, although who doesn’t? Always entertaining to watch. But the others? The Ox, in his later days wore a red leather blouson jacket that was about as close to ‘mod’ as  Alex Turner’s Olympics haircut. And he played his bass at throat height, which, no matter what you’re playing on it, is never a good look. Roger Daltrey always seems like a wee guy trying too hard to be macho. Always taking his top off and baring his chest. And he had a haircut like Barbra Streisand for about 20 years during the 70s and 80s. Which, again, is about as close to ‘mod’ as Alex Turner’s Olympics haircut. Pete Townshend? Great windmills (yeah!), great Clockwork Orange boiler suits ‘n Docs combo on the stage ‘n all that, but those child porn allegations from a few years back have tainted him forever for me. I dunno. I like the big singles that everyone likes. But as an album band, their first album excepted, they never really did it for me.  I suppose for a live album, ‘Live At Leeds‘ makes all the right noises, and The Who ‘Sell Out’ has some pretty good tracks on it, Armenia City In The Sky, to name one, and I like the pirate radio concept but really, that’s about it. The problem I have is that everything they’ve done seems to have been, aye, a ‘concept’ album. Not just ‘Sell Out’Quadrophenia is a concept album. Tommy is a concept album. Pete Townshend’s doomed Lighthouse Lifehouse project was another concept. A Quick One was a rock opera fergawdsakes! Everything seems just a bit too calculated and pre-conceived. I like my rock bands to be unpredictable and raggy round the edges. Which is why the only Who album I truly like from start to finish is their first.

What I like even better than The Who’s first album is the few tracks they recorded as The High Numbers. They’re nothing extraordinary, really just rehashed 12 bar blues-based R’nB tunes so beloved of the early 60s mods. But the sound they made! Big, booming, compressed-sounding mono tracks that jump out the speakers. The bass sounds like it’s playing under the floorboards next door. Ironically, given the advances in technology, it’s a sound that modern studios just can’t seem to replicate. Just ask Jack White (although he’s made a good fist of it) or long-lost La Lee Mavers, if you can find him.

I’m The Face was the B-Side of The High Numbers first single, Zoot Suit. Designed, at the insistence of  manager Peter Meaden, to appeal to the local pilled-up mods who got their kicks from American R’nB, I’m The Face was practically a cover of Slim Harpo‘s I Got Love If You Want It. Actually, practically a cover is being kind. This is daylight robbery long before Jimmy Page got his first copy of Down At The Crossroads with Robert Johnson and Some Other Blues Guys No-One’s Heard Of Yet. Slim’s tune stayed the same, although the band played it with a feral garage band intensity lacking in the original’s nasal reediness. On The High Numbers’ version, the harmonica wails just that bit more out of tune. Keith Moon’s drums clatter in time to Townshend’s reverberated chords and perfectly executed solo (did the afore-mentioned Page play this part? After all, he played everyone else’s around this time) and the Entwhistle bass runs divebomb to the very centre of your purple-hearted heart.  In keeping with the A-Side (I’m the snappiest dresser right down to my inch-wide tie) manager Meaden changed the lyrics to be more mod-friendly, I’m the face baby is that clear? and referencing Ivy League jackets and wild buckskin shoes along the way.

With all this studied contriving going on you could be forgiven for thinking Zoot Suit/I’m The Face was some sort of UK smash. It wasn’t. Like a gazillion other life-affirming effervescent pieces of 7 inch 60s plastic, it flopped. A disheartened High Numbers went back to the drawing board, changed their name to The Who and tried again. This time, things seemed to work out a wee bit better. Proof? Here‘s the st-st-st-st-stuttering m-m-m-m-mono version of My Generation. Sounds like a tank. (Winks). Some of you will get that reference, some of you might not.

*Bonus Tracks!

Taken from an Abbey Road session, October 1964, here’s The High Numbers doing their re-hashed r’nb 12 bar blues again:

Smokestack Lightning  Instrumental pop-art crashing proto-Who.

Memphis Tennessee  Instrumental. Big. Booming. Bass from under the floorboards.

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’.


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.


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.


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!