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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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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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My mind’s eye – A 1966 musical Christmas

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

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1966 has been in the news a lot this past year. From the 50th anniversary of England’s only world cup final win, the counterculture exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, through to endless documentaries on BBC4 and magazines celebrating this seismic musical year, 1966 seems to have been everywhere. 1966 was also probably the last year when the POP 45 really was king as a groundbreaking musical device too, album sales would soon overtake it’s 7″ counterpart and the newly labelled psychedelic rock would soon transfer to the much more serious, and expansive LP format. But, although groundbreaking LP’s such as “Pet sounds”, “Revolver” and “Blonde on blonde” were released in this year, the singles chart would still host classic number one hits such as “Paperback writer”, “Paint it, black”, “Sunny afternoon” and “Reach out, I’ll be there” and untold forward thinking 7″ gems from Love, Creation, Yardbirds, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Otis Redding were all vying for the teenagers hard-earned cash. As the year drew to a close and Christmas came a-calling, Psychedelia was still definitely underground and not yet bothering the upper echelons of “Top of the pops” and the Hit Parade, but what was pouring out of transistors and Dansettes in the build-up to the festive season? Let’s have a look at some of the hits, and classic misses of December 1966…

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In the run up to Christmas, the 7th December singles chart was stuffed with great music: Number 47 found Martha & the Vandellas with “I’m ready for love” and prime US garage from Question Mark & the Mysterians “96 tears” was on it’s way up at 37. Nudging towards the top twenty you’d find The Temptations “Beauty is only skin deep” at 30, prime Stax soul from Otis, “Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa” at 28, classic UK beat from The Hollies “Stop, stop, stop” at 13 and The Kinks downbeat “Dead End Street” at 16. Just outside the top ten was a slice of pounding Australian beat from The Easybeats with “Friday on my mind”, and nestling inside the top ten you’d find stellar US soul from Lee Dorsey at 6 with “Holy cow” and blue-eyed UK soul from The Spencer Davis Group, with Stevie Winwood’s blistering vocal lighting up the number three spot with “Gimme some loving”. A trip down your local record shop on this week would find new releases from the pre-Slade combo The N’Betweens’ with “You better run”, Ella Fitzgerald’s cracking version of “These boots were made for walking”, and Herbal Mixture’s mod-psych “Machines”. None of these sold at all and are all now much in-demand slabs of vinyl.

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A week nearer to Christmas day, the charts of 14th December included some classy new entries to the singles charts including Donovan’s proto-psychedelic classic “Sunshine superman” straight in at number 31, classic Motown from The Supremes “You keep me hangin’ on” flying up into the top twenty at 15, and, much to the groups annoyance, The Small Faces “My mind’s eye” shot into the top ten at number 4! Available this week, and destined for the unsold bargain bins, were releases from John Patto with the double-sided aceness of “Love / Can’t stop talkin’ about my baby”, Mike Leslie’s future NUTS favourite “Right or wrong”, The Olympics soul shindig “Baby do the Philly Dog” and The Mirage’s great take on The Fab Four’s “Revolver” LP show stopper “Tomorrow never knows”.

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Onto the week before Christmas and the 21st December saw a multitude of new releases in the lower reaches of the chart, all of which would soon hurtle up to much higher places early in 1967. How about this lot for utter greatness: The Cream “I feel free” at 50, The wicked Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” one place higher at 49, Motown greatness from The Temptations with “I know I’m losing you” at 47, Andover’s Troggs with “Anyway that you want me” at 39 and The Who’s future top ten hit, and ode to a seaside donkey, “Happy Jack” bursting straight in at number 30. New releases the week before Christmas which ended up in nobodies stocking included Paul Butterfield Blues Band garage stomper “Come on in”, The Flies pop-art madness “(I’m not your) Stepping stone” and The Misunderstood’s truly breathtaking “I can take you to the sun”. As usual, the more parent (and grandparent!) friendly album chart was full of the big selling easy listening gods of the day, with Jim Reeves, The Seekers and Herb Alpert hogging the high sellers league. The Kinks “Face to face”, Beatles “Revolver”, Georgie Fame’s “Sound venture” and Spencer Davis Group’s “Autumn ’66” at least made up some of the numbers below!

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So… finally we reached the last chart of that coolest of musical years, the Christmas chart of 28th December 1966, and only two new releases of note bothered the lower echelons, Smokey and the Miracles Motown stomper “(Come round here) I’m the one you need” entered at 45 and Georgie Fame’s cool mod take of “Sitting in the park” came in just above it at number 43. So what were the top sellers of that mighty week you may ask? Well, the album chart had The Seekers, Jim Reeves, The Beach Boys near the top, with “The sound of music” sitting on top where it had been for months! And the singles chart? The Beatles… Nah, they were in EMI studios working on their 1967 masterpiece. The Stones? The Hollies? Small Faces? The Supremes? Dusty? …. Nope, our top three had Val Doonican at 3, The Seekers at 2, and Tom “The voice” Jones on top of the pile with “The Green, Green grass of home”. Changes were definitely in the air though, as witnessed by one 45 released on 16th December 1966: “Hey Joe” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This would blow the UK music aristocracy apart with it’s moving of sonic of sonic boundaries, and soon shot into the UK top ten in January. 1967 was just round the corner and our radios and televisions would be introduced to the new sounds and delights of Hendrix, The Pink Floyd, Kaleidoscope, The Doors, Move and many, many more new and exciting artists. Merry Christmas!


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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 7, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Picks Tags:, , , ,
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Collectors Corner – “The UK Atlantic Records story Pt 2”

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Collectors Corner 3

In mid 1964 Britain’s hit parade was in the middle of a musical hurricane sweeping the country, home-grown guitar and harmonica wielding beat groups. From a chart ruled by Cliff Richard, Frank Ifield and Billy Fury barely a year earlier, 1964 found 45’s by young, modern and decidedly hipper groups such as The Animals, Rolling Stones, Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames and The Kinks hitting the number one spot. One thing all these artists had in common was the great big influence of American rhythm & blues, and more recently soul music. This in turn made the kids who bought records by those artists want to hear the original music itself. Along with constant name checking from stars like Dusty Springfield, John Lennon and Eric Burdon, soul music was coming out from the underground discotheques and into households via plays on the new pirate radio stations and Redifusion’s Friday evening must-see TV show “Ready, Steady, Go!”. This was where you could hear, and also see, the latest releases from Martha & The Vandellas, James Brown and Otis Redding (who even got a whole episode to himself, watch it on YouTube!). Although R’N’B had been released in the UK in large amounts since the mid ’50’s, the major labels now realised this stuff could sell, and in large amounts too. Pye records set up the International imprint back in 1958 which was followed in 1963 with an R&B series, EMI followed suit with it’s Stateside imprint which released heaps of great black American soul music, and Decca had London American which did the same thing, the jewel in it’s crown being the licence to release Atlantic tracks over here. On 24th July 1964 Decca took the plunge and Atlantic Records UK received its first proper British release, the recent US hitbound smash by The Drifters “Under the boardwalk”. This was given the number AT 4001 and was issued over here on the classic black and silver designed label with a plain white sleeve. Over the next two years nearly another 100 45’s were pressed up and released, encompassing classic soul, jazz, garage and even a number one hit single.

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After the first AT release by The Drifters hit the UK charts, albeit hitting a lowly number 45, they were graced with a further eight releases in the series including such classic tracks as “Come over to my place”, “Saturday night at the movies” and “At the club”. Like a lot of the black label Atlantic series, even though most releases didn’t hit the top of the charts they were all mostly steady sellers and apart from a few nuggets (more about those later) can be picked up for under a tenner each. Despite continually releasing great singles in the sixties, including the legendary “Everybody needs somebody to love” (AT 4004), Solomon Burke didn’t crack the charts until 2003. This didn’t stop him having seven AT releases, including “Peepin” and a great driving version of Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm”. Otis Redding was a massive success in Britain and narrowly missed the top ten when his cover of “My girl” (AT 4050) reached number 11 in 1965. He had four releases on the label including his storming version of “Satisfaction” (AT 4080), but his 45 of “I’ve been loving you too long” (AT4029) was never released, instead being relegated to the B side of “Respect” (AT 4039) a short while later. Rufus Thomas had US singles released as far back as 1953 and had a great two sider pressed up over here in 1965, “Jump back” / “All night worker” (AT 4009). Stax favourites Booker T and the M.G’s continued their run of great R’N’B instrumentals with two releases “Boot-leg” (AT 4033) and “Red beans and rice” (AT 4063) , another two dance floor winners. Amongst the other legendary names you’ll find in this glorious run include Barbara Lewis, Joe Tex, Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave and Patti Labelle.

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Two releases stood amongst the release sheets of 1965, the first was AT 4035, “I got you babe” by Sonny and Cher. None of the previous releases (apart from Bobby Darin) had been straight forward pop, but this fantastic duet was a perfect commercial nugget and duly sailed up the UK charts, nestling up at the number one slot in the autumn of 1965. If you haven’t seen the legendary Ready, Steady, Go performance of this, have a look on YouTube for a visual feast complete with members of the Rolling Stones hamming it up for the cameras along with the loved up couple. The second, and a taster for the shape of things come for the ever-expanding label, was Bocky and the Visions “I go crazy” (AT 4049), a prime slice of American garage. This was swiftly followed by Levon and the Hawks “The stones I throw” (AT 4054) which featured future members of The Band, The Young Rascals “I ain’t gonna eat out my heart anymore” (AT 4059) which came out shortly after, and then in March 1966 came the release of garage legends The Shadows of Knight with their killer version of “Gloria” (AT 4085). All of these are very collectable, not just with UK garage release collectors but with Atlantic label completest too and prices do reflect this.

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But in 1965 and 1966 soul was still Atlantic’s main selling point and the label released a whole glut of classic tracks, some of which somehow managed to sell next to nothing over here, becoming long-term expensive rarities in the following years. Although it was a UK top five smash in the early 70’s, Tami Lynn’s all time classic “I’m gonna run away from you” (AT 4071) originally was released in March 1966 and sold nothing hence it’s rarity and value nowadays. Esther Phillips end of night favourite “Just say goodbye” (AT 4077) is another hard one to source, and can easily reach £100 in nice condition. Googie Rene Combo’s jazz tinged 45 “Smokey Joe’s La La” (AT 4076) is another hard to find great, as is Travis Wammack’s instrumental classic “Scratchy” (AT 4017) and The Astors “Candy” (AT 4037) also goes for top money. Other tough but great tunes to seek out include Joe Turner’s “Midnight cannonball” (AT 4026), The Isley Brothers “The last girl” (AT 4010), Jimmy Williams “Walking on air” (AT 4042), “Chills and fever” (AT 4053) by Paul Williams, and Jackie Ivory’s “Hi heel sneakers” (AT 4075). As with most soul releases in the UK never forget that black label “Stock copies” will usually be available at a cheaper price than the more prized yellow label “demo copies”. Luckily these can be found without spending the ridiculous amount of money you’d need to collect the classic Atlantic R’N’B released by London in the 1950’s and most should be findable with a bit of luck, patience and a full wallet. And when it’s complete you’ll be the owner of one of the best runs of musical genius released, ever.

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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 22, 2016 By : Category : Articles Bands Front Page Music Reviews 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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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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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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Fontana nuggets Part 1

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Collectors Corner 1

The magical worlds of The Misunderstood and Kaleidoscope

Whilst it’s fair to say that most of the prime British collectible 45’s from the golden age would have been released on either the Decca or EMI group of labels, the Philips group wouldn’t have been far behind in the label pecking order. The Philips group itself was founded in the late 19th century in Holland originally specialising in X-Rays, Television, Radios and electric shavers! The record label itself was founded in Europe in 1950, and finally launched in Britain in 1953. Early Philips releases for Johnnie Ray, Doris Day, Winifred Atwell and Frankie Laine resulted in massive number one hits and the label soon flourished into a major player in the UK by the late 50’s. In January 1958 French label Fontana (part owned by Philips) was launched in Britain with Jimmy Jaques  “Come walking” (Fontana H100) its first release. Early records were usually pressed on 78 rpm only with an eclectic mixture of UK singers (Matt Monro), US easy listening (Johnny Mathis) and sublime R’n’B, including Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sole UK 1950’s release “I put a spell on you” (TF107). Between the late 50’s and 1963 Fontana pressed some amazing 45’s, resulting in some great rarities including Tamla Motown productions, UK jazz from Tubby Hayes, doo-wop from Little Joe and the Thrillers and early recordings from James Brown and Aretha Franklin. In 1964 with both beat and soul music exploding in popularity in the UK Fontana began to throw out classic releases every month until the TF series came to a halt in 1970 and the label was split with pop returning to the Philips fold and the progressive artists relocating to the new, hip Vertigo imprint. It’s the golden age of Fontana between 1963 and 1970 we’ll be concentrating on over the next few months and two of the labels greatest artists, who both co-incidentally will be onstage this Easter at Le Beat Bespoke, Kaleidoscope and The Misunderstood are the focus of our first article.

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The Misunderstood have a long and very mixed up history. They were formed in California back in 1963 originally playing surf music but soon becoming something altogether more sonically adventurous, particularly in thrall to sounds of the Yardbirds et al. By 1965 band members Glenn Campbell’s incendiary steel guitar playing and Steve Whiting’s bottleneck bass came to the attention of the then-unknown legendary UK DJ John Peel, back then based in the USA. By now feedback, raga and burgeoning psychedelia was present in their way out music, so in 1966 John and the band decamped to the then swinging UK. Initially minus vocalist Rick Brown who couldn’t escape the US draft, the band arrived in London in 1966. Brown eventually made it over but then Guitarist Greg Treadway was called up to the US navy and was replaced by Englishman Tony Hill. Promptly signed by Fontana in late 1966, under the eye of great underrated UK producer Dick Leahy the band set about recording there debut 45. Released in December 1966 “I can take you to the sun/Who do you love” (Fontana TF777) is one of the crown jewels of British psychedelic singles. Way too complex for British chart tastes it sold poorly and is now a prized item, copies usually change hands between £60-80. Continuing line-up problems involving visas and dodgy managers meant the follow-up 45 didn’t get released until 1969 but what a masterpiece it was. Recorded much earlier than its release date, “Children of the sun/I unseen” (Fontana TF998) literally explodes out of your speakers and the guitar squall is like being punched in the face by sound! Yet again the British public didn’t agree and this is arguably harder to find than the first 45 changing hands for around the £100 mark. One note to be wary of are bootleg pressings of both the above singles, easily identifiable by a large centre hole and the lack of a grooved ridge on the outer label rim. In 1969 Glenn assembled a new version of Misunderstood and soldiered on with no success, releasing two last singles under the name: “You’re tuff enough/Little red rooster” (TF1028) came out in May 1969 and Fontana even wrapped the 45 in a picture sleeve (their cheapest 45 at £25 – £40) then finally in July 1969 “Never met a girl like you/Golden Glass” (TF1041) was released, prices hover anywhere between £40 – £80 for this understated beauty. As the new decade began the band morphed into heavier territory under their new name of Juicy Lucy, finding a new home on the Vertigo label…. but that’s another story!

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Of all the UK groups that never tasted chart success, along with The Action, you would have to place the majestic Kaleidoscope in amongst the most baffling musical failures. Between 1967 and 1969 the band managed to release five ridiculously great singles and two perfect albums and all to no avail. They were so good it took years for the public to realise their greatness and they are now held in the high esteem they deserve. Originally known as The Key, band members Peter Daltrey, Danny Bridgman, Eddy Pumer and Steve Clark were signed to Fontana in early 1967 where they adopted their new moniker Kaleidoscope. “Humbly, we offer you the colours…and more”, or so said the beautiful full colour picture sleeve to the debut 45 release in September 1967 “Flight from Ashiya/Holidaymaker” (TF863). Although it’s a wonderful psychedelic track, the A side was probably a bit too strange for mass consumption and the single flopped. It’s priced at around £50-80 now, this does usually depend on the condition of the picture sleeve, which is very flimsy and easily tearable. At the end of 1967 the band were afforded a full-blown album release “Tangerine dream” (S/TL 5448 mono and stereo versions were produced), a perfect mixture of melody, great lyrics and psychedelia it bombed upon release making it a top end UK collectible in years to come. With LP’s, condition is paramount, meaning an original pressing of this beauty would cost over £500 for a very good condition copy, rising to way over £1000 for a mint copy with an undamaged sleeve. Into 1968 the group moved back to the singles market hoping to make a breakthrough. January 1968 saw “A dream for Julie/Please excuse my face” (TF895) followed in September by “Jenny Artichoke / Just how much you are” (TF964). Then in March 1969 “Do it again for Jeffrey / Poem” (TF1002) was followed by “Balloon / If you so wish” (TF1048) in September of that year. All four were perfect commercial tracks and any of them, to these ears anyway, should have been nestling in the UK top ten with the other great late 60’s pop classics. But due to a mixture of bad luck, promotion and management all sold zilch and all are prized collectors items nowadays. Prices for these singles range between £30 – £100, “Balloon” is especially hard to find, particularly as a stock copy. The final release as Kaleidoscope was the majestic album “Faintly blowing” (STL5491).  I can’t put into words how magnificent this album is but it is a travesty that such a musical masterpiece didn’t catapult the band to fame. As usual though, the album sold so poorly it’s impossible to find today in any sort of condition. Most copies have a watermark at the start of the track one on both sides but this doesn’t affect the value too much. The gatefold sleeve is prone to damage and ring-wear but prices easily fetch between £700 and £1000+, condition being very important here! After this lack of success, one last hurrah was the I Luv Wight 45 “Let the world wash in” (Philips 6006 043). Housed in a fetching picture sleeve in 1970, the single was supposed to receive lots of airplay due to its tie in with the Isle of Wight festival but this didn’t help it up the chart. As ever, sales were minimal and the record flopped leaving one last great Kaleidoscope rarity for you to collect. As the new decade dawned Kaleidoscope became Fairfield Parlour and decamped to Philips records groovy new progressive label Vertigo… but as I said earlier, that’s yet another 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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January 27, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Motown Shop Around

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Collectors Corner 1

Collectable early UK Tamla Motown singles

Along with Rock’n’Roll, The Beatles, Stones and Dylan, it’s probably fair to say soul has been one of the most collectable forms of music since the first record collectors started scouring junk shops looking for deleted obscure 45’s back in the late 1960’s. With it’s massive UK fanbase, Tamla Motown soon became one of the most popular labels to collect and there are plenty of choice UK rarities to empty your wallet with. The first release came out on the most celebrated of UK labels, London American, which was set up by Decca Records to release the latest sounds from the USA it held the rights to release.

In the mid 50’s the explosion of great R’N’B tracks released in the USA and the fact Decca had the rights to release music from Specialty, Atlantic and Chess meant we were treated to all manner of classic American music in the UK. And so in May 1959 the Marv Johnson US Tamla single “Come to me” was released on London HLT 8856, this was followed in November the same year with the piano led instrumental “The Hunch” by Paul Gayten (London HLM 8998) which had been released in the US on Anna records the previous month. Neither sold particularly well but do appear for sale occasionally, neither should cost more than £80 in top condition.

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In March 1960 London took up the option to release Barrett Strong’s classic single “Money (That’s what I want)” (London HLU 9088) which was at the time moving up the US hot 100 on it’s way to a #23 chart placing. Unfortunately the same thing never happened in Britain and the single flopped making it the most expensive London single to locate, a mint copy usually selling for around £100-£120. Britain had to wait another eleven months before the next UK release, but what a release it was.

The Miracles had just had Motown’s first million selling 45 in the USA , “Shop around”, and the track was released over here on London on HL 9276. Although it wasn’t a chart hit sales were respectable which is probably what tempted London into releasing a follow-up “Ain’t it baby” in September 1961 (London HL 9366) and even an EP release the following month “Shop Around” (London RE 1295). The EP is by far the hardest of the London releases and when it does appear is usually guaranteed to fetch way over £100.

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After six releases and no UK hits, Decca gave up and the releasing rights for Tamla and Motown moved to Philips subsiduary Fontana. A real mixed bag of a label, early releases ranged from Aretha Franklin and James Brown tracks to Cleo Laine and Sooty & Sweep! And so in November 1961 The Marvelettes debut US single and Hot 100 #1 smash “Please Mr Postman” was released on Fontana H 355 in Britain. Although not a hit over here it had steady sales prompting Fontana to release three singles from the label in quick succession early the following year.

The first release was from The Miracles “What’s so good about goodbye” (H 384), The Marvelettes “Twisting Postman” (H 386), and Eddie Holland “Jamie” (H 387). Not one of these singles bothered the UK charts and the Miracles and Eddie Holland singles are now prized rarities for the collector, the former usually selling for around £100 and the Holland 45 easily doubling that in perfect condition.

Around the same time (August 1961) a Motown anomily gained a UK release, The Spinners US Tri-Phi release “That’s what girls are made for” which was a Fuqua / Gordy composition sneaked out on Columbia records in the UK (DB 4693). Some discographies list this single and some don’t as it isn’t an official Motown release but we’ll go with the former as it is a £100+ rarity!

The fact that Fontana’s Motown releases were not selling as well as their Johnny Mathis releases was the probable reason the label was on the move again in autumn 1962 to the upcoming independent Oriole label.

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Originally set up in the mid 1920’s in Whitechapel, London, Oriole had begun to have regular chart hits in the late 50s and early 60’s with artists such as Chas McDevitt, Russ Hamilton and Maureen Evans all reaching high positions in the UK. Head of A&R at the company at the time, John Schroeder brought Berry Gordy over to London to sign a twelve month distribution deal and In September 1962 the company launched their “Oriole American” series with three singles leased from the Tamla-Motown stable.

Mary Wells “You beat me to the punch” (CBA 1762) was swiftly followed by The Contours “Do you love me” (CBA 1973) and The Marvelettes “Beechwood 4-5789” (CBA 1764). All three were steady sellers, unlike the next release in December 1962. Mike & The Modifiers “I got myself a brand new baby” (CBA 1775) must have got lost in the Christmas rush as it sold pitiful amounts hence it’s rarity today. This along with the other ultra rare Oriole / Motown release “I found a girl” by The Valadiers which was released in March 1963 (CBA 1809) have both sold for up to £1000 each and are jewels in any UK Tamla Motown collection.

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Oriole released a total of nineteen singles in just under a year, including UK debut discs from Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas and Little Stevie Wonder. Most can be found at a reasonable price apart from the Eddie Holland “If it’s love (It’s alright)” (CBA 1808), The Marvelettes “Locking up my heart” (CBA 1817) and Martha & The Vandellas “I’ll have to let him go” (CBA 1814) 45’s which are all £200+ rarities.

Just as Oriole looked on the cusp of a UK chart hit with Little Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips” (CBA 1853) which was released in August 1963 the US label was snapped up by the giant EMI group of companies and after one final release from The Miracles “Mickeys’ monkey” (CBA 1863) in September Tamla-Motown found itself being released on the legendary Stateside label in Britain. But that’s another story altogether…


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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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November 10, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, ,
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A is for Action and Artwoods

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Collectors Corner 1

Hello all, and welcome to my occasional delve into the strange and wonderful world of UK record collecting. I’m hoping to dip into some of the many different types of music that’s not just rare, but great and sometimes incredibly collectable too. Although I will mostly keep to the humble 7″, still the most coveted of form for the 60’s record collector, I will occasionally cover some of the lovely EP’s and LP’s released on these shores from the mid ’50’s to the early 70’s. What better way to start our musical voyage with two of the best UK bands to come out of the beat and blues boom, The Action and The Artwoods.

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The vinyl career of The Action can be traced back to March 1964 when as The Boys, Reg, Alan, Mike and Roger backed Sandra Barry on the beat mover “Really gonna shake” (Decca F11851). The track sank without trace and is incredibly hard to find now, especially as a stock release and will set you back at least £120 for a nice copy. Strangely enough a Scopitone colour promo film of the band performing the track actually managed to survive and can be seen in all it’s fine glory on youtube.

The Boys next cropped up on Pye Records in November 1964 with the Reg King penned and Kenny Lynch produced “It ain’t fair” (Pye 7N15726). Somehow this cracking two sider managed to flop too leaving behind a £100-120 collectors piece although both demos and stock copies seem to both crop up evenly. With Pete now on board they decamped to Parlophone where with the production genius of George Martin behind them conspired to make five of the most wonderous singles of all time, and each one somehow managed to miss the top fifty. The first release came out in November 1965, both soul covers, “The land of one thousand dances” backed by “In my lonely room” (Parlophone R5354). February 1966 saw the band raiding two more soul standards, “I’ll keep holdin’ on” and “Hey sah-lo-ney” (R5410). The A side is one of the all time great Motown cover versions but once again sales were poor. July 1966 saw the release of the up-tempo “Baby you’ve got it” (R5474) with Reg’s vocals working overtime on their cover of the smooth Temptations USA hit “Since I lost my baby” on the B side. After this also missed the charts February 1967 saw a change of direction with a self penned double sider “Never ever” / “Twenty fourth hour” (R5572). Such a good track it even got a US release on Capitol, it was alas another chart miss.

The last UK 45 came in June 1967, the two sided genius of “Shadows and reflections” and “Something has hit me” (R5610). After this too missed the band recorded an (then) unreleased album which was finally released thirty years later as “Rolled gold”. All five Parlophone 45’s do appear quite regularly with the first three appearing most often, both as black label stock and demo copies, whilst “Never ever” seems to be the hardest to find. Expect to pay £60 plus for nice copies of all singles, and up to £100 for excellent condition ones, though mint copies of “I’ll keep holding on” have gone for up to £200 in the past. Edsel re-issued four Action 45’s in the early 1980’s which are an easy and cheap way to pick some cracking tunes. All come with lovely colour picture sleeves and a couple of non UK B sides on them too.

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The Artwoods, like The Action, seemed to release a string of brilliant singles throughout the 60’s without once ever achieving any of the kind of success they deserved. Featuring some stellar musicians in their line-up (including Jon Lord and Keef Hartley) The Art Wood combo changed their name in late 1964 and the first single, a cover of the Leadbelly song “Sweet Mary” was released on Decca (F12015) in October that year. This sold in poor quantities and is probably the hardest of the Decca singles to find.

March 1965 saw the release of “Oh my love” / “Big City” (F12091) which was also a poor seller. August 1965 saw the release of “Goodbye sisters” backed with the mod classic “She knows what to do” (F12206). The top side should have been a hit and actually sold in quite good quantities, as did the next release, and probably the easiest Artwoods single to find, “I take what I want” / “I’m Looking For A Saxophonist Doubling French Horn Wearing Size 37 Boots” (F12384). The last Decca 45 came in August 1966 which coupled the fuzz filled cracker “I feel good” coupled with “Molly Anderson’s cookery book” on the flip side (F12465). Decca 45’s appear in demo and stock form in equal measures so prices should be the same on both, usually hitting between £50 and £100 each at auction, though occasionally mint copies can fetch more. Much more wallet emptying are two Decca releases that have collectors drooling when they do occasionally turn up. In April 1966 Decca released an EP “Jazz in jeans” which sold in such miniscule quantities it seldom appears and when a mint copy does it usually goes for well over £400. Decca astonishingly even afforded the band an album in the same year called “Art Gallery” (LK4830) which came in an iconic full colour band shot cover and should easily set you back over £500 in top condition. Luckily it was re-issued in Decca Eclipse in the early 70’s which is a much less wallet busting way of owning this classic album. A couple of great foreign releases worth looking out for are the Turkish only 45s of album highlights “Keep lookin'” and “Down in the valley” which are both incredibly hard to find in decent condition, especially with their original Turkish Decca company sleeves.

After Decca and the ‘woods parted company in late ’66 they soon re-appeared on Parlophone with a harder edged sound. April 1967 saw the release of “What shall I do” and it’s breakneck B side “In the deep end”. Stupidly rare, this is the hardest single of theirs to find, especially as a black label issue, and prices usually settle around the £150-200 for nice copies. Before the band went their seperate ways with varying degrees of success there was time for one last shot at the big time. Trying to cash in on the Bonnie & Clyde craze of 1967 and changing their name to St Valentine’s Day Massacre they released “Brother can you spare a dime” / “Al’s party” on Fontana in November 1967 (TF 883). Even a beautiful picture sleeve couldn’t tempt the public to part with their cash and this too spent years in bargain bins and obscurity until years later when it became a £100+ rarity.

Even though both bands couldn’t muster up one hit between them a full set of both artists original releases is truly a sight to behold and a full time hobby finding… happy 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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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music News Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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Introducing James Clark

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

Good evening fellow NUT’ster’s. James Clark is my name, or Freakbeat James to some. I’m hopefully going to take you on a bi-monthly trawl of the magic 7″ vinyl treasures released in the UK in the magical musical period of the late 50’s to the early 70’s. I’m a complete 7″ vinyl obsessive and hope to share some ramblings and pictures of my vinyl loves with you over the next few months. Some titles you’ll probably know, maybe some you won’t, but I promise it’ll be kept light hearted and informative. My ears prick up at anything from classic 50’s rock’n’roll, r’n’b and doo-wop, through classic 60’s soul and Motown and they’re especially receptive to noisy British beat and psych,both well known and famous. So join me as we have a light hearted trawl through some of the great music of the past including London American R’n’B, The Creation, 60’s Bowie, Sue singles, Motown on Stateside, The Action, LaVern Baker, collectable company sleeves,  Kaliedoscope, Decca freakbeat rarities, and much, much more. Oh, and being a hopeless vinyl junkie myself, I promise there’ll be lots of pictures too!

See you at the record deck.

James


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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, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Picks Tags:,
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