Collectors Corner – “The UK Atlantic Records story Pt 1”

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

July 2015 – Collectors Corner – “The UK Atlantic records story Pt 1 – Soul on fire”

When Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson established Atlantic records way back in 1944 even they surely couldn’t have foreseen how legendary the label would become. Over seventy years later and after millions of worldwide sales they are still one of the most well-known and loved record companies of them all, and the golden period between 1944 and the late 70’s are what get vinyl collectors salivating to this day. When Atlantic first appeared in the USA it was mainly a vehicle for jump blues, jazz and as the 1950’s beckoned, doo-wop and rhythm and blues. At the same time as this fantastic music was exploding in the USA, in dull post-war Britain record companies started to look further afield for new sounds to sell to people at home. And so in 1949 UK Decca set up what was to become probably the most celebrated and collectable British record label of them all, London American recordings. This was to be a home for USA releases on small independent record labels such as Savoy, Dot and Abbott, and in July 1955, Atlantic records joined an ever-increasing and exciting roster until it was given its own label in the summer of 1964. Over the course of three articles we’ll be examining some of the huge rarities the label released on 45 rpm from 1955 up till the late 60’s, starting with the sound of r’n’b and early soul sounds on London American between 1955 and 1964.

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Big Joe Turner from Kansas City, known as the boss of the blues, had a total of six 45’s and two EP’s released in the UK in the 50’s and 60’s, and the most coveted are his London Atlantic releases. “Corinne Corrina” (HLE 8301), “Boogie woogie country girl” (HLE 8332) and “Lipstick powder and paint” (HLE 8357 – Gold label) are among the jewels in any Atlantic collection, copies of these releases are ridiculously hard to find in excellent or mint condition and these little beauties will all cost you anywhere between £200 – £400 in pristine condition. “Honey hush” (HLE 9055) and “Chains of love” (HLK 9119) weren’t released until 1960 but will still set you back between £30-50 though. All five are indispensable examples of 1950’s r’n’b and well worth seeking out. Atlanta born “King of the stroll” Chuck Willis only released a few tracks in his lifetime before his untimely death aged 30 in 1958. His Atlantic sides were well represented in the UK, “CC Rider” (HLE 8444) being the first and hardest release to find, which can cost up to £80 in mint condition. After this London released “That train has gone” (HLE 8489) “Betty and Dupree” (HLE 8595), “What am I living for” (HLE 8635) and “My life” (HLE 8818) none of which were hits and normally sell for between £30-£50 each. Smooth voiced “Baron of the blues” Ivory Joe Hunter had a total of three singles released in 1956-7 and they’re all both incredibly rare and worth seeking out. “A tear fell” (HLE 8261) is the first and hardest to locate (£250+), “Since I met you baby” (Columbia DB 3872) and “Love’s a hurting game” (HLE 8486) are a bit easier to find but still cost way more than £100 each.

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Chicago blues queen LaVern Baker had one of the most sensational voices ever and was afforded plenty of 45rpm releases in the UK, but amazingly none were hits at the time. Hence her catalogue is littered with choice rarities, especially her earliest releases some of which are so rare plenty of collectors have never seen them! “That lucky old sun” (HL 8199) and “”Get up! Get up!” (HLE 8260) are the hardest to locate and mint copies could cost up to £500 each. “Jim Dandy” (strangely issued on Columbia DB 3879), “Still” (HLE 8396) and “Jim Dandy got married” (HLE 8442) may be easier to find but still command £200+ price tags. “Love me right” (HLE 8524), “Substitute” (HLE 8638), “Whipper snapper” (HLE 8627), “I cried a tear” (HLE 8790), “I waited too long” (HLE 8871) were her remaining 1950’s releases and will cost you between £30 – £100 to own in mint condition. Her singles releases continued into the 1960’s with more London releases, “So high so low”, “Bumble bee”, “Tiny Tim”, “You’re the boss”, “Saved”, “See see rider” (£30-£50 each) and the hard to find rocker “Voodoo Voodoo” (HLK 9468- £80) complete the set. Ruth Brown was known as “The Queen of r’n’b” and one listen to her records will tell you why. Like LaVern she had a string of releases on London and none were anything like a hit! “Mama he treats your daughter mean” (HL 8153) and “As long as I’m moving” (HLE 8210) are the hardest by far to find and will cost between £300-£500 if you can actually find a copy. 1957 brought releases “I Want to do more” (HLE 8310), “Lucky lips” (another odd Columbia release on DB3913) and “Mom oh Mom” (HLE 8310) are all easily £200 singles in mint condition. Ruth continued to regularly release 45’s on London until 1962, eight in total, and all are desirable costing between £25 to £50 each.

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Vocal groups were massively popular in the 1950’s and helped pave the way for the great soul vocal groups in the next decade. The first hitmakers were Atlantic stalwarts The Coasters who had a string of hits written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, and, along with Bobby Darin, gave Atlantic their first UK chart hits. They had a total of fifteen UK releases on London Atlantic and most can be picked up quite cheaply, between £5-10 each. Exceptions are the first release “Searchin'” (HLE 8450) and the elusive “The shadow knows” (HLE 8729) which are worth between £20-30 each. The Clovers were much less successful over here and leave behind some of the rarest UK singles of all time. “Nip sip” (HLE 8229), “Love love love” (HLE 8314) and “From the bottom of my heart” (HLE 8334) are all incredibly hard to find, and will set you back between £200-£400 each. Later singles include “One mint julep”, “Easy lovin” and the best version of “Love potion no.9”. These also command good prices, especially the latter with its rare first pressing triangular centre (£30-50). Probably the most well-known Atlantic group to have releases on the London label were The Drifters. Any group that includes two of the best soul voices ever, Ben E King and Clyde McPhatter as their main lead singers at different times was bound to have some stellar releases in the catalogue. Their first UK release “Soldier of fortune” (HLE 8344) is one of the top ten London rarities and has sold for £1000+ in the past. Other notable rarities include the great doo-wopper “Drip drop” (HLE 8686 – £100), and proto-soul outings “There goes my baby” (HLE 8892) and “Dance with me” (HLE 8988 – £10 to £15 each). In 1960 The Drifters hit the number two spot in Britain with “Save the last dance for me” which secured a string of releases on the label for the rest of the decade. “This magic moment”, “Up on the roof”, “On broadway”, “Sweets for my sweet” and “Please stay” are all early 1960’s classic soul group singles and can be picked up quite cheaply, as can all their London singles, apart from “Rat race” (HLK 9750) which seems to be very rare.

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As the sixties came round R‘n’B began to morph into soul music and Atlantic were at the forefront of this. ‘King’ Solomon Burke was at the forefront of the new sounds and had plenty of UK releases, including “Just out of reach” (HLK 9454), “If you need me” (HLK 9715) and the all time classic “Cry to me” (HLK 9512), the last of which can sell for up to £100 in mint condition. Smooth voiced Michigan Barbara Lewis had three UK releases on London, including the classic tracks “Hello Stranger’ (HLK 9724) and “Snap your fingers” (HLK 9832). Around this time Stax recordings from Memphis began to get UK releases under the London Atlantic banner. Long term blues shouter Rufus Thomas had three dog related releases on London, including the classic “Walking the dog” (HLK 9799). The early queen of Memphis soul, and Rufus’s daughter Carla Thomas also had three releases, including the rare debut single “Gee whiz” (HLK 9310). In January 1964 London Atlantic released one of their last, but most important releases of the decade when the utter legend that was Otis Redding unleashed “Pain in my heart” on the British public (HLK 9833 – £30). Although not a hit single, Atlantic and Stax releases were becoming more and more popular with British soul fans, mods and in the discotheques. With this in mind, and a whole year before EMI launched the Tamla Motown label, Decca took the plunge and Atlantic records was born in July 1964 with The Drifters “Under the boardwalk”… and we’ll take a peek into this classic period in part two soon!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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July 8, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Collectors Corner – ‘Run mascara – The girl group sound!’

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

Of all the genres, fads and phases pop music ran through in the 1960’s one of the most collectable and enduring has to be the explosion of girls behind the microphone, either solo or in a group. Although a lot of the classics were written to order for them, the music produced was simultaneously heartbreaking, uplifting and always way under three minutes long. In the USA throughout the 60’s, little 7″ nuggets of perfect pop were churned out on a weekly basis, and most artists ended up with one, or maybe two flop singles. But occasionally they’d hit big and usually they’d soon secure a record release in Britain shortly afterwards. In a future article we’ll concentrate on the British girls, who made some stellar tracks themselves, but in this article I’m going to look at four of the biggest acts from that decade, who although may have hit big in the USA, usually had one or two British hits as well as leaving some beautiful, and rare, releases for UK collectors to hunt out too.

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The Shirelles were formed in high school in 1957 and were promptly signed by local label Tiara Records who released their debut release “I met him on a Sunday”. The track soon came to the attention of Decca in the States who bought out the group’s contract and leased the track to Brunswick in Britain (05746, both on 45 and also their only UK 78rpm!) . Even though it was a catchy track, the single sank without trace over here and is easily the hardest UK release to find, especially in mint condition (£80-100). After a lack of follow-up hits in the USA they were released from their Decca contract and were signed by the new Scepter label which released all the classic singles The Shirelles would put out in the decade. After three flop US singles, they hit the Billboard charts in 1960 with “Tonight’s the night”, written by seasoned smash hit writer Luther Dixon. Shortly after the track became the solitary release by the group in Britain on London American recordings but alas, it missed the chart over here (HL9233 – £20). Then came the 45 that changed everything…”Will you love me tomorrow”. Written by stellar songsmiths Goffin and King, this all time classic sailed to the top of US charts, and soon followed suit up the UK charts where it hit number four in the spring of 1961 when it was released on Top Rank (JAR 540). Although easy to find and not valuable (£4-5) the record is coveted both for the wonderful A side, and it’s great r’n’b flip, “Boys”. The Beatles, and Lennon in particular were great fans and namechecked the girls on numerous occasions, and also covered the track on their debut album in 1963. Top Rank followed the hit with five more 45 releases, the pick being “Mama said” (JAR 567) and “Baby it’s you” (JAR601 – also covered by the fab four). Top Rank also released a very rare EP “The Shirelles sound” (JKP 3012 – £80) and a disappointing but hard to find LP “Trumpet and Strings” (35-115 – £100). A move to HMV secured their second, though much smaller hit in the UK, “Soldier Boy” (POP 1019) which reached number 23 in late 1962. This was the only release on the label as they were then placed on the legendary Stateside imprint, releasing a further six 45’s and two beautiful and rare LP’s, “Baby it’s you” and “The Shirelles hits”, the former commanding an £80 price tag nowadays. In late ’63 Pye International took over the releases in Britain, putting out seven great 45’s. But the hits had dried up by now and after a couple of late sixties releases on Mercury and Bell (as Shirley and the Shirelles) the band were no more. Apart from the first single, the EP’s and albums all the singles are quite affordable and a complete run is a sight (and sound) to behold indeed.

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For collectors of the genre, Phil Spector needs no introduction. Although also now notorious for other things, in his time he was by far the most original and forward thinking record producer in the world. Two of the groups that helped mould that legend were The Crystals and The Ronettes and Britain took both groups to their hearts with some big sellers over here for both bands. A resume of their respective careers would take up a small novel, as many tracks featured some or none of the names on the labels so we’ll concentrate on some of the big hits and amazing rarities both artists released over here.

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The Ronettes had British hit singles with Spector favourites “Be my baby”, “Baby I love you”, and “Do I love you” on London American recordings but the label also released some great rarities for them too. Both 1965 flop 45’s “Born to be together” (HLU 9952) and soul favourite “You baby” (HLU 9976) both command £20-30 price tags, and the withdrawn 1966 release “I can hear music” (HLU 10087) has hit the £100 mark in the past. The group also had two LP releases, “Presenting the fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica” (London HA-U 8212) and “The Ronettes” (Colpix PXL 486), which are both hard to find and come in striking covers adding to their appeal, expect to pay up to £100 for either of these beauties. The Crystals also hit the UK charts, scoring massive hits on London American records with “He’s a rebel”, “Da doo ron ron” and “Then he kissed me”. Their debut release” There’s no other (like my baby)”, although a Philles track, was released over here on Parlophone (R 4867) way back in early 1962 and is very hard to find, especially in mint condition with it’s sleeve and centre intact (£80-100). 1964 withdrawn London American release “Little boy” with “Uptown” on the flip is a £100+ rarity, the replacement release “I wonder” / “Little boy” is easier to find but still sells for £30+ as does their final original UK release “My place” (United Artists UP 1110). The group was also afforded an EP release “Da doo ron ron” (London REU 1381 – £50+) and a super rare LP “He’s a rebel” (London HAU 8120 – £100+) which came in a cracking “leather jacket wearing, motorcycle bad boy” cartoon sleeve.

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Perhaps the coolest band of them all was the Shangri-Las, who had everything: The heartache, the songs, and just as importantly, the coolest look imaginable. A four piece comprised of two sisters from New York, the group had a couple of one shot US releases on Smash and Spokane before they were signed by Red Bird records in April 1964 whilst all still minors. Placed under the considerable production skills of “Shadow” Morton, the first release was the eerie “Remember (walkin’ in the sand)” which promptly shot into the US top ten. Pye in the UK had a distribution deal with the company and the track was soon released over here where it hit the number 14 spot (RB 10008). The follow-up “Leader of the pack” is probably the best of it’s genre, of both the girl group sound and the death disc craze, and soon hit number one in the USA and number 11 over here, though it also hit the UK top ten twice in the 1970’s too. An EP, “The Shangri-Las”, was swiftly released but sales were poor, probably due to the dull picture sleeve which ridiculously didn’t feature a photo of this most photogenic group (RB 40002 – £40+). This was followed by an album, “Leader of the pack” (RB 20 101 – £60+), which although this time in a wonderful colour sleeve, also sold poorly. Not ones to give up, Pye / Red Bird released a further eight UK singles between 1965-66 and not one troubled the charts. Amongst these were all time classics “Give him a great big kiss”, “Out in the streets”, “I can never go home anymore” and “He cried”, and all eight are quite difficult to locate in pristine condition without any writing on the labels and with their hard to find “Red bird” company sleeves. There is rumour of a second UK EP, “I can never go home anymore”, but it’s never been seen so can only be assumed to be unreleased unless a test pressing ever appears. A further three UK flop singles on Philips and Mercury in 1967 and our Shangri -Las story comes to an end. But all their records are worth tracking down, it gives great listening pleasure! Although these four stellar artists are the building blocks for a great collection, soon we’ll hunt down some of the more obscure girl group rarities released over here for a future article, from the Brits, the Americans, and all over the world too!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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September 23, 2015 By : Category : Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The Beatles Fan Club Christmas Discs

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

NUTS Christmas Special

It goes without saying that the new Beatles #1’s DVD will be top of a lot of Fab Four fans Christmas present lists this year. Stuffed full of remastered videos and TV performances from 1962 to 1970, it’s a fans visual wet dream come true. But way back in their heyday the group had a yearly present for members of their fan club which were firstly visually stunning with fold out sleeves and inserts, and secondly chock full of exclusive messages, skits and music which to this day have mostly never been given an official release. Seven singles and one LP were sent out in total and today we’re going to have a little look through the contents of each one.

Christmas 1963

A mere year after the band hit the UK charts in 1962 The Beatles were by far the hottest band in Britain and Europe which soon led to their own monthly magazine and a fan club was soon started too. In October 1963 it was decided to send out a special flexi disc to members of the club in time for the freezing cold December of 1963. Recorded on 17th October, and scripted by well-known music scribe Tony Barrow, the disc featured skits and renditions of “Good King Wenceslas” and, erm, “Rudolph the red-nosed Ringo”! Delivered on 6th December “The Beatles Christmas record” was issued in a lovely yellow card stapled gatefold sleeve which was extremely fragile and is prone to falling apart. It’s the hardest disc to find, especially in good condition with its original brown envelope. This beautiful artefact is valued at over £100, up to £200 in pristine condition
with the envelope.

Christmas 1966

By 1964 Beatlemania had swept the globe and on 26th October the boys were back at Abbey Road recording the second flexidisc, imaginatively titled “Another Beatles Christmas record”. This one was delivered on 18th December and featured more skits, messages to fans and versions of “Jingle bells” and “Oh can you wash your fathers shirt?” in its grooves. This, like the rest that followed, was issued in a standard unlaminated card sleeve with a 7″ paper insert. 1965 saw the recording of the third flexi, the even more boringly titled “The Beatles third Christmas Record” featured such delights as an off-key “Yesterday”, “Happy Christmas to Ya List’nas” and “Auld lang syne” and a snippet of the Four Tops recent hit “It’s the same old song”. This was posted out on 17th December just in time for Christmas day! By the time the 1966 flexi disc was recorded in October the band were in the middle of recording the best ever single to reach #2, “Strawberry fields forever” and unsurprisingly the skits found in the previous years were replaced with a collection of small surreal songs around the idea of pantomine. The first to be produced by George Martin, “Pantomine, everywhere it’s Christmas” was posted out on 16th December, this also came with a newsletter insert. These three discs are the easiest to find as they were released at the height of Beatlemania, discs with inserts usually fetch between £60-100 depending on condition, but a premium is again added if they are still in the original tan envelopes.

Christmas 1967

By 1967 The Beatles had embraced psychedelia and also released the years’ defining rock album “Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band” but still found time to pop into EMI on the 25th November to record their latest gift to their fans, “Christmas time is here again!”. Despatched on 15th December and again produced by George Martin this was a fantastic collage of fake BBC radio auditions with the original track “Christmas time is here again” appearing at various points of the record. This track was the only piece to ever receive a proper release when it appeared on the B side of “Free as a bird” in the mid ”90’s. It came clad in a marvellous Pepper-esque collage sleeve and insert. By the time winter 1968 came around the band were now Apple artists and slowly beginning to fall apart. Tellingly this single featured snippets recorded separately by band members and put together by radio DJ and good friend Kenny Everett. At nearly eight minutes long, “The Beatles 1968 Christmas record” was posted out on 20th December, but rather than coming with a fan club insert this one had a Superpix advert peddling some rather fetching posters of the band. The last flexi disc “Happy Christmas 1969” was posted on 19th December 1969 when the band were no longer together and the same as the previous year it was made up of seperately recorded snippets, with George hardly featuring at all. A two-sided affair, the flexi came complete with a two page letter from fan club secretary Freda Kelly. The sleeve was a beautiful full colour affair designed by Ringo and his son Zac. These discs are slightly harder to find than the 1964-66 discs and usually sell between £70-150 especially with the inserts which always seem to be missing!

Christmas 1968

By December 1970 all members had released hit solo singles and albums and The Beatles themselves had ceased to exist as a recording unit. But as one last present to their fans the club decided to collect all the previous recordings and press them up on a full length Apple 12″ LP. It doesn’t seem there were many members left by December 1970 as the album is ridiculously hard to find and easily fetches £250+ if you can find one. One warning though, it has been heavily bootlegged over the years and in good quality too. Collecting the full set can be a hard task but is a great way of capturing a different side to that fantastic band… happy hunting, and a happy-er Christmas and a “Merry Grew Year” to you all!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, ,
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Bowie in the 1960’s

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

It’s fair to say that most music lovers were shocked and deeply saddened when the death of one of the world’s most revered music legends, David Bowie, was announced early on Monday 11th January 2016. David was an ever-present in most people’s musical tapestry, from his first break in 1969 with ‘Space Oddity’, through proto-metal with ‘The man who sold the world’ the following year, and then releasing a whole series of groundbreaking and innovating albums on RCA throughout the decade. He followed this run with the stadium years of the 1980’s, and then had a creative rebirth in the 1990’s, releasing a fine succession of critically acclaimed albums, ending with the wonderful ‘Blackstar’ which was released only two days before he died. Although the many tributes tended to concentrate on his hit making heyday, most headlines hardly gave a mention to the many wonderful and varied released Mr Jones released before he hit the big time and that’s therefore what we’re going to have a look at in this article.

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Born David Robert Jones in Brixton, 8th January 1937, the family moved to Bromley when he was seven where in the mid 50’s he discovered rock’n’roll and decided music was what he wanted to pursue. He took up piano, ukulele and later saxophone, and like most musical fans of his age, joined and formed various skiffle, then beat groups in his early teens. At 15, Bowie and some friends formed The Konrads, but he soon left and joined The King Bees who were one of many of the British R‘n’B bands playing around the country in 1964. Taken under the management of Leslie Conn, the band were signed to Decca and on 5th June 1964 ‘Liza Jane’/‘Louie Louie go home’ was released on subsidiary label Vocalion V 9221. Both tracks were good but unremarkable British rhythm’n’blues and sank without trace in the busy release schedules of the time. By far the most desirable and expensive of Bowie’s UK singles, this single nowadays can fetch up to £2000 in mint condition. Be careful buying this disc as the record was bootlegged in the 1970’s with a large centre hole, a genuine original would have a four prong push out centre and should come in a red and white Vocalion company bag. A great and cheaper way to own this piece of musical history is the Decca mid-seventies reissue which can be picked up for around a tenner!

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After the failure of Davie’s first single, he left the band and joined another Rythym & Blues band called the Manish Boys. The group was signed to EMI in 1965 and placed under the guidance of the company’s top selling label of the time, Parlophone. On 5th March 1965 the label released a cover of ‘I pity the fool’ backed with a great Jones written mod-jazz track ‘Take my tip’ (Parlophone R5250). Like the release before it the single stiffed badly and is also hard to find, especially as a stock copy. Yet again, copies of this single in mint condition can reach the £1000 mark, that’s when they rarely appear on the market. The B side had the added attraction of being the first Bowie song to be covered when Kenny Miller released his single ‘Take my tip’ (Stateside SS 405) in April of the same year. Also rare but decidedly cheaper than Bowie’s original, this can usually be picked up for around the £100 mark. In August, now firmly encased in the amphetamine filled Soho mod scene and regulars at the Marquee club, Davy Jones and The Lower Third as they were now known released another single on Parlophone, the manic, pop-art masterpiece ‘You’ve got a habit of leaving’/‘Baby loves that way’ (Parlophone R 5315). Produced by the legendary Shel Talmy, it should have been a hit in a chart full of Yardbirds, Who and Them singles but yet again it sold absolutely nothing leaving yet another £1000 rated 45. Both Parlophone singles are essential listening but luckily have all been reissued on EP’s in the last couple of decades, most recently on Record Store Day 2014 with a stunning 1965 era Bowie picture sleeve.

1966 and London was in full swing when Jones decided on the name change (to avoid confusion with future Monkee Davy Jones) to David Bowie, the surname he’d take to the grave. After parting company with Leslie Conn, the newly christened David Bowie and the Lower Third were signed to Pye records and released three fantastic 45’s during the coming year. The first, released on 14th January 1966, was possibly the highlight of his early career, ‘Can’t help thinking about me’, with the almost as good ‘And I say to myself’ on the flip (Pye 7N 17020). Despite plenty of publicity and airplay the song only managed to scrape into the bottom of the top 50 in a couple of music magazine charts. Even though it sold a few copies it’s still an in demand item and regularly sells for £200-300 for a copy. The next release came out three months later on 1st April, ‘Do anything you say’, backed with the jazz tinged groover ‘Good morning girl’ (Pye 7N 17079). Now billed solely as David Bowie this release was not as immediate as it’s predecessor and is the hardest of the three to locate, usually hitting over £500 in top condition. The final release on Pye was released in August 1966, a proper swinging London affair called ‘I dig everything’ coupled with another strong B side ‘I’m not losing sleep’ (Pye 7N 17157). Although this sold more than the second single this still reaches prices of £300+ at auction.

 

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After three great commercial singles that just didn’t seem to click with the record buying public Bowie started 1967 joining the last days of pop-art mod band The Riot Squad. At this time David had come into possession of one the earliest pressings of the seminal Velvet Underground debut album and soon incorporated ‘I’m waiting for the man’ into the band’s live act. The track along a handful of others were actually recorded and finally secured an EP release on Acid Jazz in 2013. Now under the management of Kenneth Pitt who tried to steer Bowie down a more all round entertainer route he was signed to Decca’s new progressive label Deram as a solo artist. The first fruits of this new direction was the lightweight single “Rubber band” (Deram DM 107) which was a surreal mix of Anthony Newley and Syd Barrett. The B side ‘The London Boys’ is a lost nugget, Bowie’s sombre tale of mod London gone wrong. It sold incredibly poorly on release and is by far the hardest single of this period to find, especially as a stock copy. The next release, the novelty track ‘The laughing gnome’/ ‘Gospel according to Tony Day’ (Deram DM 123) released in April 1967 was another flop but this one would come back to haunt him when it hit the top ten six years later at the height of glam-era Bowiemania.

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First pressings are much harder to find, original copies have an upside down matrix number on the label and flat push out centres rather than 1973 double ridged style centres, this is the difference between spending £5 and £50+ on a copy! After three years of non-hit singles, on June 1st 1967 the debut album ‘David Bowie’ was released to the world in both mono and stereo pressings (DML / SML 1007). It’s a mixed bag of English popsike and vaudeville, with Bowie himself later explaining his influences at the time as a mix of Max Miller and Elvis Presley. Unfortunately the music loving kids of 1967 decided to spend their money on another album released the same day, ‘Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band’ and the album sank without trace creating a £700-1000 item nowadays. In July Deram had one last try with the catchy ‘Love you till Tuesday’ being released as a 45 (DM 145) which was one flop too many for Decca causing artist and label to part company soon after. In 1968 without a contract, Bowie, with mime artists Hermoine and Hutch, made a small series of promo films featuring remixed Deram tracks and also an embryonic version of a song that was to finally into the charts in the summer of 1969, ‘Space oddity’… But that’s a whole different story!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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February 12, 2016 By : Category : Articles Beat Front Page Inspiration Music Reviews UK Tags:,
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UK Tamla Motown singles Part 2: Stateside

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

“In my lonely room – UK Tamla Motown singles Part 2: Stateside”

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After beginning to make bigger leaps into the UK record buying markets in 1963, the Tamla / Motown / Gordy group found themselves under the umbrella of the EMI subsidiary label, Stateside in October of the same year. Stateside was formed in mid 1962 by EMI to release singles under licence from American labels such as Swan, Wand and Vee-Jay in a similar style to Decca records very successful London American imprint. Licensing tracks from many independent USA labels ensured Stateside released a whole slew of great current rhythm’n’blues and soul releases, and the label soon endeared itself to mods and soul fans on this side of the Atlantic. As well as having hits with Freddy Cannon and Gene Pitney, early releases included such stellar names as The Isley Brothers, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Jackson and The Shirelles. When Oriole’s UK contract with Motown ran out the previous month the new distributor launched its first release on Stateside on 11th October 1963 with Martha and the Vandellas all time classic “Heatwave” (SS228). When sales were quite brisk, the label then released three more singles the following month by Little Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye’s fantastic “Can I get a witness” (SS243).

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By January 1964 Motown was causing quite a stir on these shores, being regularly name checked by the UK’s biggest pop combo, The Beatles, who took Mary Wells on tour with them and mentioning Motown artists numerous times in interviews. Add to this the burgeoning underground mod and soul club scene which was hungry for the dance floor friendly sounds coming out of Detroit and it wouldn’t be long before Stateside had a bona-fide hit single on their hands. Between January and April 1964, no less than twelve 45’s were released in the UK, including tracks by The Miracles, The Marvelettes and debut UK releases from The Temptations, “The way you do the things you do” (SS278), and the group that would soon hit the top spot, The Supremes “When the lovelight starts shining thru his eyes (SS257). On May 8th 1964 Stateside released a hook laden single written by Smokey Robinson, and it was sung by Motown’s number one lady of the time, Mary Wells, “My Guy” (SS288). Two weeks later, on the 21st May 1964, “My guy” entered the UK charts at number 37, finally hitting the heady heights of number 5 the following month. Berry Gordy’s company had now scored their first of many big hit singles in Britain.

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Between May ’64 and March 1965 Stateside issued a further 30 singles, including debuts from The Velvelettes, Earl Van Dyke, Four Tops and Kim Weston. Most of these were steady sellers, with titles by Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Mary Wells and The Temptations all scoring top fifty placings. On 28th August, and eight months after their initial flop, The Supremes “Where did our love go” (SS327) was released to an impressed public, who bought the single in droves, sending it number three in the chart. Less than two months later, and capitalising on the nation’s newfound love with the sounds from Motor City, “Baby love” (SS350) was released and hit the top spot soon after, with the group actually having two songs in the top ten at the same time for one week in October! Unfortunately not all releases were massive hits and some are now hard to find. These always sell for good prices when they appear on the market, especially in mint condition. Martha & The Vandellas “In my lonely room” (SS305), Brenda Holloway “Every little bit hurts” (SS307), The Tempations “Why you wanna make me blue” (SS348), Earl Van Dyke “Soul stomp” (SS357), Kim Weston “A little more love” (SS359), Four Tops “Without the one you love” (SS371), Carolyn Crawford “When someone’s good to you” (SS384) and Tony Martin “Talkin’ to your picture” (SS394) are probably the hardest to find, especially the last two. Also coming with a ridiculous price tag, all the Stateside EMI singles were sent to pluggers and radio DJ’s as red and white label demonstration discs and all are extremely collectable, and valuable too!

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EMI was also loved to release EP’s and hundreds of them were released across their labels from the early ’50’s to the late ’60’s. After no EP releases on Fontana or Oriole, Stateside bit the bullet and released no less than five of them in the time they were licensing material. Little Stevie Wonder was afforded the only single artist EP, “I call it pretty music but old people call it the blues” (SE1014) which is ridiculously hard to find. There were also four editions of a cracking new EP series, concentrating on material otherwise unavailable in the UK on 45, “R & B Chartmakers”. The series featured some great tracks, including two stellar previously USA only releases from Eddie Holland, “Just ain’t enough love” and “Leaving here”, all came in amazing picture sleeves too. Although steady sellers they’re hard to find in great condition nowadays, expect to pay between £50-£100 for each of them. By March 1965 the label was as big, if not bigger than Atlantic over here in the UK so it came as no surprise that, with a little help from super fan Dave Godin, Berry Gordy signed an exclusive deal with EMI to set up a brand new record company in Britain, Tamla Motown records. On 19th March 1965, clad in an iconic orange and white company sleeve, record stores took release of a new disc, TMG 501, “Stop! in the name of love” by The Supremes and the rest, as they say, is history.


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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May 4, 2016 By : Category : Articles Club Soul Front Page Music Picks Reviews UK USA Tags:, , , ,
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UK Tamla Motown singles Part 3

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

“I’ll be doggone! – UK Tamla Motown singles Pt.3: TMG500 Series”

 

At the end of the second part of our trawl through the near-perfect run of soul classics released in the UK from the USA stable of record labels (Tamla, Motown, Gordy and Soul), boss Berry Gordy had just put pen to paper for EMI in Britain to follow Decca’s lead (with Atlantic the previous year) and launch Tamla Motown as a stand alone label to release the labels hits pouring out of the USA in the UK. With much fanfare, and with a corresponding (and very poorly attended at times) package tour featuring The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Miracles and the Earl Van Dyke six, March 1965 saw the first six records pressed and released to a British public becoming more and more interested in the soul sounds pouring out of the other side of the Atlantic. TMG 501 was the first release, with its iconic black and silver label, large 45 rpm on the right-hand side, and clad in a beautiful orange / white company sleeve. Things couldn’t have got off to a better start as The Supremes “Stop! in the name of love” hurtled up the charts to number 7, followed swiftly by Martha & The Vandellas “Nowhere to run” which reached #26 at the same time. Thus started a near perfect run of singles, commonly known as the TMG 500 series, which have been avidly collected by record hoarders ever since.

The Supremes quickly established themselves as the labels biggest hitmakers, frequently hitting the top ten throughout the decade, including 500 series favorites “You can’t hurry love” and “You keep me hanging on”. They were soon followed by The Four Tops who hit the charts with “I can’t help myself”, “It’s the same old song” and in 1966, having the first bonafide Tamla Motown UK number one with “Reach out I’ll be there”. Other artists began to have minor hits too, The Miracles “Going to a go-go”, Stevie Wonder’s thumping “Uptight (everything’s alright)”, Marvin Gaye’s “Little darling” and The Temptations “Beauty is only skin deep” all reaching the charts. The same artists also gave us some very sought after rarities too, as they all had flop releases at the same time. The Supremes “Love is like an itching in my heart”, Four Tops “Ask the lonely”, Marvin’s “I’ll be doggone” and The Temptations “Get ready” always fetch good money with collectors, even though they do turn up for sale quite often.

After a great start, the label had more hit & miss luck releasing singles, with 1965 seeing quite a few record releases selling almost nothing then later becoming sought after “lost” classics on the northern soul scene. Early release must haves include Kim Weston’s “I’m still loving you” (TMG511), Brenda Holloway “When I’m gone” (TMG510), Shorty Long’s “Out to get you” (TMG512), The Hit Pack “Never say no to your baby” (TMG514), Choker Campbell “Mickey’s monkey” (TMG517) and The (Detroit) Spinners “Sweet thing” (TMG514). Most of these early singles hit £100+ when they come up for sale, which isn’t very often! The rest of 1965 saw a flurry of good selling releases from label favorites, with The Contours and The Marvelettes also getting in on the action. Four very poor selling releases stand out amongst this run of classics, none of which are easy to find. Billy Eckstine “Had you been around” (TMG533), Dorsey Burnette “Jimmy Brown” (TMG534), The Lewis Sisters “You need me” (TMG536) and Tony Martin “The bigger your heart is” (TMG537) are all sought after, mainly due to rarity as they aren’t amongst the best of the labels’ releases!

As 1966 came around the label continually released great records with varying degrees of success. Joining the artists mentioned above saw releases by Kim Weston, Shorty Long, Gladys Knight & The Pips and, with one of Motown’s greatest ever songs in “This old heart of mine”, The Isley Brothers. Some notable, and scarce releases this year included Kim Weston’s Northern favourite “Helpless” (TMG554), The Contours “Just a little misunderstanding” (TMG564), The Elgins “Heaven must have sent you” (TMG583) and Gladys Knight & The Pips masterpiece “Just walk in my shoes” (TMG576). Hardly a duff release was pressed at all up to TMG599 in March 1967, such was the stellar amount of talent pouring out of Detroit at the time. This is partly why this period of Motown releases is so sought after. Although collecting “the hits” can be done quite cheaply and easily as the label sold tonnes of 45’s in the mid to late 60’s in Britain, completing the set does require quite a fat wallet! Black label stock copies are generally a lot cheaper (though not always easier to find) than the very sought after iconic Red A label demo discs which were pressed in very small numbers and are much cherished by UK soul release connoisseurs. The main exception to this rule is the Spinners “Sweet thing” which is near impossible to find as a stock copy. Monetary value aside, a complete collection is a sight (and sound) to behold, and once complete you’ll be in possession of one of the best ever set of musical releases ever. Happy Motown hunting!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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July 3, 2017 By : Category : Articles Club Soul Front Page Music Picks Reviews UK USA Tags:, , , ,
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