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The Kinks on Pye: Part 2 – “I’m not like everybody else”

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Collectors Corner 5

During our last article, we concentrated on The Kinks hit-packed period when they never seemed to be off the charts. As psychedelia took hold of 1967 and strangled most British bands in beads and flowers, The Kinks took off in a different direction and released some wonderfully wistful and melancholic masterpieces. These songs seemed to hark back to a more innocent time which probably only existed through rose-tinted (psychedelic) spectacles anyway. Ray proceeded to write a series of genius 45’s, and more importantly, albums which unbelievably sold less and less with each release. 1968 started well for the boys with the budget LP release “Sunny afternoon” hitting the top ten during the important Christmas market and selling very well indeed. So when Pye released the first new material of the year in April 1968, the lovely and restrained stand-alone 45 “Wonderboy” would have been assumed to sail into the top ten, but it unbelievably stalled at a lowly number 36 in the charts. This began a run of wonderful, yet underappreciated single releases which were low sellers, hence the rarity of some of them today.

Two months later in June ’68, one of Ray’s most loved compositions, “Day’s” was released and fared much better, just stalling outside the top ten at number 12. Though all the bands singles contain nuggets hidden away on their B-sides, this one had one of the bands hardest rockers on the flip, “She’s got everything”. Originally recorded and shelved two years earlier, it could have been a big hit in 1968 as The Stones, Beatles and Move all had massive rock’n’roll influenced hit singles. Luckily it wasn’t forgotten and still fills mod dancefloors to this day as soon as it starts up. Into 1969, the thumping “Plastic man” was released and again reached no higher than number 31, a flop by the band’s lofty standards. It seemed the better Ray’s songwriting became, the fewer people bought the bands records. “Drivin'” was released in August 1969 and became the first 45 to miss the hit parade since “You still want me” in early 1964. Even worse was the total no-show of “Shangri-la” in September which sold incredibly poorly and is one of the hardest of UK Kinks singles to find. In December, the upbeat album track “Victoria” at least managed to hit the low 30’s in the chart but it took a tale of a Soho nightclub meeting with a transsexual to have the band visiting Top of the Pops again. “Lola” was soon flying up the charts and hit the number two slot in August, kept off the top by Elvis. Shortly after “Apeman”, backed with the wonderful “Rats” on the flip, became the group’s last UK top ten hit when it reached number five in the summer. “Days”, “Lola” and “Apeman” apart, these 45’s are now quite hard to find, especially in top condition and prices have risen in the last few years. Expect to pay between £10-20 for the low sellers and up to £30 “Shangri-la”. All were pressed up as yellow demo copies, these are also really sought after and can reach £100+ at auction. A quick shout must go out to Dave Davies at this point. In between 1967 and 1968, he released four cracking solo 45’s and a super rare EP, “Dave Davies Hits”, which is a £200+ artifact nowadays. All four singles (Death of a clown, Suzannah’s still alive, Lincoln County and Hold my hand) are worth seeking out, the last one, in particular, is hard to find and is coveted for it’s fantastic psychedelic B side “Creeping Jean”.

The decline of fortunes in the singles chart was mirrored with the blue label Pye album releases, none of which charted at all. The 1968 release “The Kinks are the village green preservation society” needs no introduction to Kinks aficionado’s, it’s simply one the all-time album masterpieces. Originally envisaged as a twelve track album, a handful of white label promos were pressed up before the track listing was changed to the fifteen track album we all love today. It’s impossible to put a price on the promo copies, but even the released album reaches £200+ in top condition as it sold in small amounts. This album, and it’s follow-up were both released in mono and stereo, the former the harder to locate and more valuable to collectors. They were both encased in very flimsy laminated gatefold sleeves which are invariably damaged and worn, make sure you look after any mint copies out there! “Arthur (or the decline and fall of the British empire)” was released the following year in 1969, and although similarly full of stellar Ray Davies songwriting, this one sold in small amounts too. Hence it has a £100+ price tag nowadays with the “Queen Victoria” insert still there (it’s invariably missing!). 1970’s “Lola vs Powerman and the money-go-round” was the first to be a stereo only release and sold more than the previous two, mainly due to the massive hit singles released at the same time. For a band to release so many groundbreaking and classic songs on Pye, it’s a shame that their parting shot was a soundtrack to
the 1971 Hywel Bennett film “Percy”, a comedy about a man who has a penis transplant. The album still sells for a good price, mainly due to its creators, and Pye also released four tracks from the album as a “maxi-single” with a picture sleeve at the same time. The band signed a contract with RCA in 1971, becoming the “Muswell hillbillies” of that decade who would, at last, have massive success in the USA. But it’s that catalogue on the iconic pink and blue Pye label that will always hold a place in most collectors hearts.


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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 9, 2017 By : Category : Articles Bands Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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The Kinks on Pye: Part 1 – “I’m not like everybody else”

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Collectors Corner 3

Although The Kinks have long been one of our most influential and cherished groups, in the last couple of years since the hit musical “Sunny Afternoon” and especially since Ray Davies joined brother Dave onstage in London back in December 2015, fans have been hopefully awaiting the reformation of this most wonderful of bands. Although The Kinks back catalogue spans over forty years it’s the halcyon Pye years from 1964 to 1971 in which the band constantly released classic hit records which have collectors scouring record shops, fairs, and the internet for hits and rarities, and a full set of UK releases will set you back a fair few quid should you wish to complete the set. For this two-part article, we’re going to give you a run through of the hard to find releases from the debut 45 back in early 64 to the “Percy” soundtrack eight years later. The first part will concentrate on the “Pink” years, when the band had a string of top ten singles, including three UK number one hits, the second part will then concentrate on the “Blue” years when Ray was at his songwriting peak but the record buying public were not buying the records in such great numbers. Hindsight shows how wrong they were.

Hailing from Muswell Hill in North London, Ray, Dave and bassist Pete Quaife were originally an R’n’B combo called The Ravens who came to the attention of ace producer Shel Talmy after he heard a demo tape and helped get the group signed to the Pye record group where they were enlisted drummer Mick Avory to complete the classic first line up. On 7th February 1964 their debut single “Long tall Sally”, a R’n’B cover of the Little Richard classic was released on the pink Pye label (7N15611) was unveiled to the record buying public. Although the single hit the lower reaches of the NME chart it was a commercial flop making copies a nice rare collector’s item today with prices usually reaching £75-120 depending on condition. The next 45 was released in April 1964 and like all the Kinks singles after the debut, it was a Ray Davies penned number “You still want me” (7N15636). Although the first single sold in respectable amounts, this one was an unjustified complete flop and is by far the hardest Kinks UK 45 to locate in nice condition. Expect to pay at least £200 for a copy of this, one even reached the amazing price of £400+ at auction in 2016! With Pye threatening to cancel the band’s contract if they didn’t have a hit single, Ray composed one of the most influential two and bit minute slabs of musical perfection ever committed to vinyl, “You really got me”. With Dave’s incendiary and groundbreaking lead guitar bursting through the track, it couldn’t fail when it was released on 7th August 1964 (7N15673). And fail it didn’t as it shot up the UK charts, reaching the coveted number one spot shortly after where it stayed for two weeks. The Kinks had arrived.

From then on every single the group released up until 1968 hit the upper regions of the UK charts, with every single release apart from “Everybody’s gonna be happy” hitting the top ten, two of them reaching the top spot. As runs of stellar 45’s go, the following one takes some beating for songcraft, influence and sheer greatness: “All day and all of the night”, “Tired of waiting for you”, “Everybody’s gonna be happy”, “Set me free”, “See my friends”, “Till the end of the day”, “Dedicated follower of  fashion”, “Sunny afternoon”, “Dead end street”, “Waterloo sunset”, “Autumn almanac”. Being massive chart smashes these are usually findable in nice condition for around £3-5 each, with a premium for truly mint copies. All the Kinks singles were also pressed as demonstration copies in small numbers, these are very desirable to collectors and can reach top prices at auction, especially in top condition with unblemished labels. Also look out for UK export release 45’s, mainly for the European market. There are four in total, including album tracks “David Watts”, “A well-respected man” and “Milk cow blues” on a 7″ format. Ray’s songwriting prowess also resulted in some fantastic and very rare releases by other artists around this time. “I go to sleep” was covered by The Applejacks, Peggy Lee, Marion, Fingers and The Truth in 1965-66 although none were hits and it wasn’t till a few years later The Pretenders took the song into the charts. Other great, obscure and coveted releases include Barry Fantoni “Little man in a little box” (Fontana), The Thoughts “All night stand” (Planet), The Cascades “I bet you won’t stay” (Liberty) and Leapy Lee “King of the whole wide world” (Decca). Ironically it’s Dave’s composition “One fine day” which was covered by Shel Naylor and released on Decca in 1964 which fetches by far the most money, with prices sometimes hitting the £500+ mark!

With the band constantly having smash hits Pye also released a nice series of EP’s in wonderful colour laminated sleeves. Five were released in total, the first three”Kwyet Kinks”, “Kinksize hits” and “Kinksize session” are not particularly hard to find, but the fourth “Dedicated Kinks” from 1966 is more elusive and the final EP “The Kinks” from April 1968 is incredibly scarce easily reaching £200+ at auction in top condition. The band’s first three LP’s “The Kinks”, “Kinda Kinks” and “The Kink controversy” were good sellers but easily sell for £50+ in nice condition with clean sleeves. Particularly coveted are rare export Stereo pressings of the first two LP’s with stickered UK sleeves as they were mono only releases in the UK. “Face to face” from 1966 was a move towards Ray’s late 60’s songwriting style and is an absolute classic but strangely failed to chart resulting in scarcity of copies today. This was followed by the live album “Live at Kelvin Hall” in early 1967 and lastly by the masterpiece “Something else by The Kinks” in September of the same year. All were released in both Mono and Stereo, the latter being the scarcer of the two, especially with the Stereo sticker still attached! Prices vary wildly from one week to the next but be prepared to have a large bank account if you want a truly mint copy of any of them. As 1968 approached Ray’s songwriting grew more world-weary and pastoral and the band embarked on an influential but poorly received at the time run of releases on the newly redesigned light blue Pye label. We’ll have a look at these next time around…


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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 15, 2017 By : Category : Articles Bands Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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Substitute! – The Sounds of the World Cup 1966

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Collectors Corner 3

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50 years ago this month at Wembley stadium the England football team lifted its first, (and as I type this), only major trophy, the daddy of them all, the World Cup. Watch any programme about the ‘swinging sixties’ and chances are you’ll see clips of Carnaby Street, Twiggy, Mini cars, girls wearing mini skirts and the beautiful gold trophy being held aloft by Bobby Moore on the hallowed Wembley turf. Obviously music also played a major part in this wonderful decade, but everything seemed to come to a wonderous climax in July 1966 when anything seemed possible in Britain, and especially its epicentre, London. So we’re going to take you on a musical journey following England’s progress in the competition along with the music that soundtracked that most glorious of months, July 1966.

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The competition started on 11 July, with England hosting Uruguay which ended in a 0 – 0 draw at Wembley. Six days previously the latest singles chart was awash with classic soul and beat 45’s, most of them homegrown too! A new entry at 49 was the majestic pop-art of “Making time” by The Creation, at 47 we had the soul from London mod club stalwart Geno Washington with “Water”, at 38 stood the Small Faces with “Hey girl” and at 23 were the Stones with their sitar drenched “Paint it black”. The top twenty included the Yardbirds groundbreaking “Over, under, sideways, down” at 12, up thirteen places to 20 stood Chris Farlowe’s “Out of time” and the top three was surely one of the best ever: Ike and Tina’s “River deep, mountain high” at 3, The Beatles “Paperback writer” at 2 and top of the pile, The Kinks majestic “Sunny afternoon”. The album chart was no less stellar, the top ten alone featuring current releases including “Animalisms”, “Small Faces”, “Pet sounds”, “Aftermath” and Georgie Fame’s “Sweet things”. Ironically topping the pile was the soundtrack to “The sound of music” but you can’t have it all! If none of these releases whetted your appetite, a trip to your local record store this week would find new releases from The Miracles “Whole lotta shakin’ in my heart” on Tamla Motown, The Spidells “Find out what’s happening” on Sue and Herbie Goins and the Nightimers club classic “Cruisin” on Parlophone.

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On the 16th July at Wembley, England saw off Mexico 2 – 0, and then on the 20th France were also beaten 2 – 0 by them sending the team into the last sixteen of the tournament with seven points. This week the singles charts saw new entries from Otis Redding with “My lovers prayer”, The Temptations all time Motown classic “Ain’t to proud to beg”, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s claustrophobic transatlantic smash “Summer in the city” and the highest entry, at 29, was the future number one from The Troggs, “With a girl like you”. New albums making an appearance included “Otis Redding’s dictionary of soul” on Atlantic and The Yardbirds self titled final UK album, known by most of us as “Roger the engineer”. Some wonderful new release 45’s available to the British public for the first time this week, and mostly left unsold in the racks, included stellar soul from Donald Height “Talk of the grapevine”, Major Lance “Investigate”, The Orlons “Spinnin’ top”, Edwin Starr’s floor filler “Headline news”, and not forgetting Manchester’s Richard Kent Style with the great blue-eyed mover “Go Go children”.

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On the 23rd July the quarter finals were played which saw England beating Argentina by a slim 1 – 0 margin whilst West Germany thumped Uruguay 4 – 0 up in Sheffield. New entries in the hit parade came from the Pretty things “A house in the country”, Four Tops “Loving you is sweeter than ever” and Bob Dylan’s “I want you”. Meanwhile sweet Georgie Fame swept up to the top spot for a second time with his catchy “Getaway” which stayed there for a solitary week. Meanwhile in the LP charts one of the most influential UK blues albums made its first appearance, “The Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton”, complete with its iconic ‘Eric reading The Beano’ front cover. On television, “Ready, steady, go!” featured performances from Madeline Bell and The Yardbirds (unfortunately, as with most RSG footage, long missing from the archives), and new 45 releases included “Shake your hips” from Slim Harpo on Stateside and the Pye released freakbeat mega-rarity “Hungry” by the 5am event.

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On the 25th July up in Liverpool, West Germany saw off the USSR 2 – 1 to secure their place in the final of the trophy. The next day England were to join them after beating Portugal at Wembley, also with a 2 – 1 victory. The final two teams were now ready for their showpiece showdown four days later. Meanwhile, in the new chart we saw the appearance of two all time greats from across the atlantic when the The Mamas and Papas “I saw her again” and The Beach Boys double sider “God only knows/Wouldn’t it be nice” both crashed into the UK top fifty, both soon to sail into the top ten. This weeks top three was another jaw dropping corker, with The Troggs at 3, Los Bravos Spanish groover “Black is black” at two, and top of the pile, in its iconic Immediate company sleeve, sat Chris Farlowe’s “Out of time”. On the 30th July 1966, below the twin towers of Wembley Stadium, the host nation England played a thrilling final against West Germany, eventually coming out 4 – 2 winners after extra time and a still hotly disputed third England goal. At that moment in time when the trophy was held triumphantly aloft anything seemed possible in the country that “swinged” but fifty years later we’re still waiting for that elusive second trophy… but lets hope you enjoyed our trip through that magical month of July 1966.


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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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June 21, 2016 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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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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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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The Who 1960’s UK releases

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Collectors Corner 1

‘Out in the streets’ – Collecting The Who 1960’s UK releases

If you’d have told the four teenagers from Acton calling themselves The Detours back in 1964 that 51 years later the surviving members would be headlining a massive concert in Hyde Park they’d have probably laughed in your face, then Roger would have punched you. But as testament to the lasting power and magnificence of The Who that is exactly what they are doing next month. With this in mind I’ve decided to have a trawl through their original golden age from 1964 to 1969 and shed light on a run of records that are equal of any of their fellow bands of the time.

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Our story starts in 1964 when, after changing their original name from The Detours to The Who then, along with another name change to the High Numbers, the band secure an audition with Fontana arranged by manager Pete Meaden. This led to a debut release on 3rd July 1964, ‘Zoot suit’/‘I’m the face’ on Fontana TF 480. Basically rewrites of r‘n’b hits by The Dynamics and Slim Harpo the record sank without trace and is now the jewel in any Who collectors crown, with nice copies usually hitting £1000+. In late 1964 under guidance from new management team (Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp) the band were recorded by Shel Talmy who leased the resulting tapes to Brunswick records in the UK. And so on 15th January 1965 ‘I can’t explain’ (Brunswick 05926) was unleashed upon the public and eventually became a smash single hitting No.8 in the charts. This was followed in May with the perfect mix of pop-art and mod, ‘Anyway, anyhow, anywhere’ (05935) which hit No.10 in the chart. October saw the release of their early masterpiece ‘My generation’ (05944) which surely is one record which needs no introduction and is a must in any collection. The single reached the heady heights of No.2 in the chart just before Christmas, being kept off the top spot by ‘The Carnival is over’ by The Seekers! Soon after this release came one of the most iconic 1960’s albums ‘My generation’ (LAT 8616), chock full of high octane mod, pop-art and r‘n’b tunes and wrapped in a superb eye catching cover. The album was a strong seller but copies still sell for over £100, and nearer to £500 for truly mint copies.

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Come 1966 and The Who’s management were in wrangles with Fowley and the band found themselves signed to Robert Stigwood’s Reaction label. Fowley countered this by releasing spoiler releases on Brunswick every time a new single was released. This makes for a confusing catalogue, especially with the debut on their new label, ‘Substitute’ (591001) which had no less than three B sides. ‘Circles’ was the original B side and is the hardest version to find, copies can fetch over £50. This was swiftly replaced by ‘Instant party’ and finally ‘Waltz for a pig’ which although credited to The Who Orchestra was actually Graham Bond Organisation. The single reached No.5, and was followed by ‘The kids are alright’ (05965),  then ‘I’m a boy’ (591004) which reached No.2,  then ‘La-la-la lies’ (05968), and finally in December, the number 3 smash ‘Happy Jack’ (591010). Reaction records also found time to release an EP ‘Ready steady Who’ (592001) with a beautiful picture sleeve which is hard to find in mint condition and can reach £100 in top condition. The second LP was also released this very same year, ‘A quick one’ which was also a good seller. The Reaction singles all sold very well and are easy to pick up quite cheap but the 1966 Brunswick 45’s didn’t sell so well and can fetch between £30-£50. All The Who Brunswick 45’s were also originally pressed as red label ‘demo’ discs which are highly prized artifacts and regularly reach way over £100 each.

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From 1967 onwards the band found their new home on Track records where they would stay for the next ten years or so and release most of their most celebrated records.  Singles wise the band started the year with another top ten smash, ‘Pictures of Lily’ (604002), a Jagger/Richards support flop single ‘The last time/Under my thumb’ (604006) which fetches between £20-£40 and then another top tenner in ‘I can see for miles’ (604011) and a third album, the ridiculously underrated ‘The Who sell out’ which was released in mono and stereo. The album originally came with a stickered sleeve and beautiful psychedelic poster which is ridiculously rare and can turn a £80 album into a £500 album! By 1968 The Who were drifting towards albums rather than singles and all their releases were pretty poor sellers by the bands standards. ‘Dogs’ (604023) and ‘Magic Bus’ (604024) both missed the top ten and the makeshift compilation LP ‘Direct hits’ also sold poorly despite it’s great colour cover.

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Townshend was now hard at work on his forthcoming rock opera ‘Tommy’ which would catapult them into the major league forever. The first fruits of his labour in 1969 was the 45 ‘Pinball wizard’ (604027) which became their last 45 of the decade and also hit No.4 in the chart. Released in May 1969 the album ‘Tommy’ originally came with a laminated gatefold sleeve, and a numbered booklet. These are the pressings that get collectors dribbling with excitement, but condition is very important regarding prices. A standard copy with an un-numbered booklet can be picked up for as little as £15 as the record sold untold copies, but numbered copies can easily fetch £100+. There were also four promo only 45’s released to promote the album to radio stations and these are much sought after (PRO 1, 2, 3 and 4) though the first one ‘The Acid queen’ is rumoured not to actually exist as a copy has yet to be found! So there you have it, one of the most amazing, original runs of music ever released, and a great collection which can be gathered at a quite reasonable price… what you waiting for?, go out and complete the set!


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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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April 24, 2015 By : Category : Articles Bands Beat DJs Front Page Objects UK Tags:, , ,
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