Browsing Tag The Action

Record Reviews – Feb 2015 (Part 1)

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The Action

In My Lonely Room – EP

What more can be said about The Action? A band of such high standing in mod circles, as to be regarded as equal to The Who, Small Faces or The Kinks.
A band who, like The Beatles, were rejected by Dick Rowe at Decca Records, then subsequently were signed by Parlophone and produced by George Martin (who some would argue, put all his creative genius into the Fab Four and may not have given The Action the attention they deserved.)
This fantastic EP may be the last of the ‘undiscovered’ recordings from The Action. Four sides cut for Decca with a view to being signed.
The recordings have come from test pressings made during 1964-65 and have been re-mastered to the best quality possible.
With the exception of the last track, ‘Fine Looking Girl’, which is accepted as being a basic demo from an acetate that had not been well-looked after, the other three tracks are a wonderful addition to the catalogue.
‘In My Lonely Room’ is a deliciously raw version compared to the polished offering that became the B-side to ‘Land Of 1,000 Dances’.
Their take on The Impressions ‘You’ll Want Me Back’ is a delight from start to finish. Tight harmonies and Reggie King giving his all is a prime example of why The Action was so revered among their peers.
Their version of ‘Why You Wanna Make Me Blue’ highlights exactly why Steve Marriott rated The Action so highly. Their ability to capture that ‘something’ about the Tamla sound was a knack the Small Faces always felt they never quite achieved themselves.
So we have Peter Reynolds to thank for restoring and re-mastering. Nigel Lees for making this disc a reality and Andrew Few for granting access to the source material. A job well-done and a happy bunch of Action fans who will not be disappointed with the results.

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March Of The Mods

‘Causing A Scene’ – Various Artists Double – CD

‘Tis the season when March Of The Mods (MOTM) in aid Of Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) begin their third year of fundraising activities for the charity.

Part of that campaign includes this new cd compilation featuring tracks from many artists who have or will be taking part this year.

Staunch perennial supporters like The Universal, Sha La Las, Heavy Mod, The Theme, Button Up and Past Tense are all represented here.

2015 debutants include The Inciters, Len Price 3, Heavyball and Mayfield. There is even a smattering of classics from the likes of Geno Washington, The Eyes and Steve Marriott.

If, like me, you have an open mind about mod culture, there is much to enjoy in this collection. The Supernovas’ track ‘City Of Smoke’, Samuel S. Parkes’ ‘The Runner’ and Sixty Eight’s ‘She’s A Witch’ were just three of my favs from bands I was unfamiliar with. (Which is no mean feat I can tell you!)

I have to say, March Of The Mods have done exceptionally well putting this together and getting bands like From The Jam, Pepper Pots,The Riots and all the others to donate the tracks for free allowing all proceeds to go to Teenage Cancer Trust.

Last year MOTM presented a cheque for one hundred thousand pounds to TCT. This compilation should get 2015’s campaign off to a flyer and we wish them all the best.

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Emma Donovan and The Putbacks

Dawn – LP

When this cd landed at the Nutsmag office, the first thing I noticed was it is on the wonderful Australian label Hope Street.

I must confess, upon first listening, I wondered why an Australian record label was releasing a London-based artist! This is the kind of soul I associate with the London scene that first came to prominence in the early 90s with labels like Acid Jazz, Talkin’ Loud and acts such as Carlene Anderson, Brand New Heavies, Incognito and the like.

I had not been aware of Emma Donovan until now. A lady from the Aborginal community, she has a voice of such depth and rich soulful tones, it is very hard to resist.

It has only been in recent times Emma has joined forces with Melbourne-based soul outfit, The Putbacks. It’s a match made in heaven.

This album and Emma Donovan’s delivery just oozes into your soul. It’s like being wrapped in a warm, fur-lined blanket in front of an open fire.

The title track ‘Dawn’ has hints of Anita Baker in her heyday, while ‘My Goodness’ is a sultry, silky rhythm that simply says ‘class’.

‘Keep Me In Your Reach’ is as close as you get to a mid-paced dancer, laced with Hammond organ and a guitar sound reminiscent of Steve Cropper.

Changing down the gears to a slow ballad, ‘Come Back To Me’ is just beautiful.

The gauntlet has been thrown down early in 2015. Any soul band out there will have to come with something truly exceptional to top this quite superb album.

Let’s hope Emma Donovan can reach the shores of the UK. I think she will take the soul world by storm.

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BJ’s New Breed

‘Baby’s Gone For Good’ b/w ‘One Man Woman’ – Single

‘I’m Sorry’ b/w ‘The Harder They Come’ – Single

You may or may not be familiar with the bands The Jaybirds and The Attention, but they were two of Vienna’s finest exponents of psych infused garage.

When you amalgamate members from both bands, you get BJ’s New Breed and four tracks across two 7” singles that do not disappoint.

Loaded with strident chords, catchy rhythms, Vox Continental organ and janggly guitar, it’s hard to pick one out of the four because they are all top draw.

Simply put, if you like psych and garage, you’ll love these tunes.

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Eleanor Rigby

Best of Vol 1 – CD

Mod culture is not known for mysteries or strange stories, but one of the few, if not the only one, is that of Eleanor Rigby.

She arrived on the mod scene with her debut single ‘I Want To Sleep With You’ in 1985 and continued to release singles and her only album ‘Censorship’ in 1987.

It is claimed that she had some influence on the emerging Britpop bands like Garbage, St Etienne and Blur. She certainly seemed to find favour across Europe and she did have a core of UK fans.

The mystery about Eleanor, is that she disappeared, not just from the mod and music scene, but literally disappeared completely around 1988-89.

No one has seen or heard from her since.

This 12 track offering comprised of her singles comes courtesy of Future Legend Records. She had her detractors and took a lot of criticism from certain circles in the late Eighties, but this cd serves to remind us, she did have ability to back up her attractive, Sixties/mod-inspired image.

The aforementioned debut and the follow-up, ‘Take Another Shot Of My Heart’ are catchy songs and ‘of their time’.

For my money, her quality and untapped potential is better evidenced by her covers of ‘You Only Live Twice’ and ‘Up The Junction’

For those of you who may remember Eleanor Rigby in the Eighties, maybe now is a good time to re-evaluate her career? It’s just a shame she is not available for comment.

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French Boutik

Mieux Comme Ca – EP

This one arrived about a week after the last issue of Nutsmag, so it is a tad late, but well worth reviewing.

This is the third EP from the Gallic mod-popsters and each one gets better. They have a style and sound of their own which is always a good thing to have in your locker and the lead track exemplifies this claim.

An uptempo beat track with lead vocals by Serge Hoffman, complimented by Gabriella Giacoman and Zelda Aquil, ‘Mieux Comme Ca’ fairly rattles along.

‘End Of The Line’ however, sees the ‘Boutiks change down the gears with a lyrical, psychy flavour that again, highlights one of their strengths; their ability to come up with good songs that don’t sound the same. You know it’s them, but it’s not like anything you’ve heard before.

‘La Vie En Couleurs’ sees Gabriela take over the lead with a really catchy mod-pop tune that could only come from our neighbours across the English Channel. It’s that “Je ne se quoi pas” that sounds utterly French.

Having been invited to play the Specialized Weekend in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust last year, French Boutik have included their version of the Madness tune ‘Tiptoes’ on this EP and a fine job they have done too.

I can tell you I’ve heard some new material that French Boutik are working on for their next release and that will be one to watch out for. I know they are here for a couple of dates in March and I’ve also heard a whisper they will be back in the UK in July. They are well worth seeing.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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February 16, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music 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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Record Reviews – Feb 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 4 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

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Reggie King – Looking For A Dream CD

As most of you will know, Reggie King was the lead singer of The Action. They were a band that should have been more commercially successful, but it never materialised. However, their legacy to British pop music and mod has been felt for decades. It has really only been in the last 15 years or so that The Action have been given something like the credit and respect they deserved, thanks in part to our own Dr Robert and people like the late Ian Hebditch and his surviving partner Jane Shepherd. Now we can add another name to that list of dedicated Action fans. This collection of recently rediscovered demos has been meticulously restored by Peter Wild with help from Peter Reynolds and Ian Stead. The collection released by Circle Records is an astonishing and important piece of British pop history. To give it some context, Reggie left The Action in 1968 and released a solo LP in 1971. These 15 tracks were recorded in 1969, or at least that is the best guess. No one can be absolutely certain. What is certain, is that this album clearly indicates exactly where Reggie was musically at that time. It seems to me that Reggie was not only a contemporary of, but also a competitor with Steve Marriott and Ray Davis and in my opinion, they travelled similar roads musically, although Marriott and Davis won the commercial popularity contest as single and album sales will attest.

The reason I make this comparison is because much of this album would not have looked out of place alongside ‘Autumn Stone’ or ‘The Self Preservation Society ‘ for example. Although they are demos, they are complete, produced and arranged works that are both of their time, but could easily stand up along side some of Paul Weller’s more recent wistful work. ’22 Dreams’ LP springs to mind. I think musically, the Modfather would relate to this collection totally. ‘Looking For A Dream’ is packed full of pastoral shades. It is not folksy by any means, but it has all the best qualities of a collection of songs that were a precursor to the classic singer-songwriter period of pop. All the songs were written by Reggie King and this shows what a magnificent and under-rated songwriter he was. ‘Get Up, Get Away’ easily matches Ray Davis or Marriott at their jolly music hall best. ‘All Up To Heaven’ is another perfect example, while ‘In And Out’ is just sublime and arguably the best track. I like the fact that, in the sleeve notes, Peter Wild accepts that one or two tracks are purely ‘the best we could get them’ in terms of sound quality which is a very honest assessment. This is definitely an album for not just Action fans as a historical artefact , but serious music lovers who will really listen to the songs and appreciate the quality. We really lost a ‘national treasure’ when Reggie past away. This CD proves it.

 

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Alfa 9 – Gone To Ground CD

Seven years is a long time between albums for any band. So it is the case with Alfa 9 who finally return from their sabbatical….well okay not a sabbatical so much, but there are those for whom life must never get in the way of their career and those, like Alfa 9 who have rolled with life’s ups and downs, but never lost sight of what they wanted to do. What a joy it is to see them back with a new LP of wonderfully crafted and produced songs. For those not aware of Alfa 9, the Newcastle-Under-Lyne quartet’s debut LP ‘Then We Begin’ was critically acclaimed. They toured with Coral and Charlatans and looked as if things were going to really take off. Unfortunately the rigours of extensive touring caught up with them and that thing I mentioned earlier, life. This new 12 track offering is easily on a par with that debut LP, if not better. Alfa 9 are a nice combination of influences that shine throughout. Almost like a fine wine, you can almost taste the flavours; the Byrds, Charlatans, Stone Roses, Rain Parade, La’s, Crosby Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons. ‘El Morocco’ gets the album off to a flying start, a real Byrds-influenced song that highlights another aspect of Alfa 9’s admirable qualities – vocal harmonies, which are exquisitely executed. ‘Seedless’ is a wistful, dreamy corker, while ‘Old Man Blues’ comes out of left-field compared to the rest of the tracks as a rocking blues belter which is lyrically very clever and astutely observed. If ‘The Castle’ had been released in 1996, it would have been top twenty material, complementing and capturing the sound of the aforementioned Stone Roses, Charlatans, Ride et al. If any of the influencing bands mentioned are among your favs, watch out for this one, Alfa 9 ‘Gone To Ground’. I think you may be seeing and hearing a lot more about them in the near future and remember, you saw it here first. The album is out on general release in March this year on Blow Up Records. Cat No: BU066CDPW.

 

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Electric Stars – Sonic Candy Soul CD

I am always interested when a new release from Detour Records lands on my desk. While they are known for unearthing great obscure and unreleased or long-forgotten punk and mod revival tracks. Detour also have a healthy catalogue of terrific LPs ranging from Long Tall Shorty to Makin’ Time. This album by Electric Stars was of particular interest as I had not heard about this Manchester band until the CD arrived. This is as good a slice of British indie rock as you’re likely to hear anywhere. The songs and the production on the eleven tracks have pretty much incorporated every influence you could think of from British rock music of the last 60 years. They have thrown it into a big pot, given it a stir and the results are spectacular. If the great British NIMS (Not Into Mod) ever get to hear this band, they would consign their crap Coldplay CDs to the recycling bin where they belong. Included in the set are the two songs that became Electric Stars first single: ‘Stoned Again’ a lovely relaxed ballad and ‘Between The Streets’ which has a nice joyful late-sixties feel to it. However, for me, the real gem on this album is the last track ‘Isolation’. Again it is a ballad, but it is simply the best bitter-sweet love song I’ve heard since Verve did ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’. I don’t think it is going too far to say it’s a work of absolute perfection. A song so complete I can’t imagine it being improved. Now if this had been written and performed by someone like maybe Robbie Williams (when he was at his peak) it would have been a million seller. I’m not the easiest of people to win over, but when something this good comes along, I found it hard to resist. The youtube link is the full album version of this song. If nothing else, I shall catch an Electric Stars gig at some point just to hear ‘Isolation’ live.

theelectricstars.com
facebook.com/The-Electric-Stars
twitter.com/theelectricstar
detour-records.co.uk
youtube.com/electricstars

 

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Rhythm Shakers – Flipsville CD

Oh man ! Make sure you get your hands on tickets for Le Beat Bespoke Weekender 9 because if this rockin’, rollin, strollin’, boppin’ album is anything to go by, Rhythm Shakers are going to make a big impression here come the Easter holidays. This is a good old fashioned rockin’ R&B set that will have Mark Lamarr jumpin’ (if he doesn’t already know about them !) The driving force behind the band is Marlene Perez. She wrote all bar four of the tracks and what a voice! It’s taylor-made for this kind of thing. Every now-and-then, Marlene pulls out that husky growl that is not over-used, but timed to perfection. The backing and production is an amalgam of rockabilly meets the Ventures meets Brenda Lee at her rockin’ best. If anything Senorita Perez has a more low-down and dirty sound to her delivery than Ms Lee could have ever hoped to achieve. The real challenge reviewing this CD and one I gladly accept is simply this: Pick a winner from this lot ! It is rare indeed when you can’t find a fault in any of the songs. Listen to ‘My Sweet Revenge’ and you know the lady means every last word of it. She wants a ‘Real Rockin’ Daddy’ and you hope one turns up damn quick ! Even when Rhythm Shakers dip their toes in the covers pool, they come up with a lovely interpretation of Ray Charles’ ‘Mess Around’. The lead track ‘No Time On You’ really sets the tone for this collection of 12 numbers and I urge you to at least check them out via the links. One thing is for sure. I’ll be the first one in the door when they open on 30 March 2013.

facebook.com/The-Rhythm-Shakers
wildpresents.com/therhythmshakers
youtube.com/therhythmshakers

 

Top 10 Favourite Tracks of 2012

As we move into 2013, I thought I would present my Top 10 favourite tracks of 2012. Of course we all have our opinions and our favs, and I accept not everyone will agree with me.

They are in no particular order, but for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. Nick Waterhouse – ‘Is That Clear’.

The Bay Area resident came to the UK early in 2012 and made a big impression on the London scene and this was my pick from his EP.

2. Jasmine Kara – ‘Ordinary Joe’

Also early in the year, Jasmine Kara had a showcase for her LP ‘Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Good Woman Gone Bad’. From that came a very tidy interpretation of the Terry Callier classic.

3. Last Of The Troubadors – ‘Only Remedy’

The latest incarnation for the resilient and creative Darron Connett, this song was from their first EP ‘Sooner The Better’. While all four tracks deserve a mention, this was my choice.

4. French Boutik – ‘Le Clope’

Much like Last Of The Troubadors, French Boutik came up with a four track EP of high quality. This one got my vote by the narrowest of margins.

5. Recusants – Barmaid

I saw these guys sharing the bill with Spitfires back in October. I know they are an out-and-out indie band, but there was something about this song that got me hooked. Indie power pop at it’s finest.

6. Spitfires – ‘Sirens’

While ‘Spark To Start’ was the lead track on this double A-side single, this always was my fav. Power, aggression, three minutes of post-punk, Jam/ Clash/ Chords influenced perfection.

7. Filthy Six – ‘Girlfriend’

A latecomer into my top 10. A fabulous cover of the Michael Jackson hit from the 1980s. Cleverly incorporating the guitar riff from Archie Bell and The Drells ‘Tighten Up’ (not sampled I might add), this a the kind of funky stuff that Acid Jazz built its reputation upon.

8. Frowning Clouds – ‘Snake Charmer’

This was my pick from the LP ‘Listen Closlier’. I’m really looking forward to seeing our Aussie cousins live at Le Beat Bespoke 9 during Easter.

9. Strypes – ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’

People still talk about the Crossfire Allnighter back in October when these lads from the Emerald Isle fairly torn the place up with a blistering set, and this track was one of many highlights. They will be back for Le Beat Bespoke 9 as well.

10. Electric Stars – ‘Isolation’

My final choice is this incredible bitter-sweet ballad from the Manchester-based band. On the basis that nothing is perfect, this is as close as it gets for me.

All tracks listed are available via the usual online and digital download outlets.

So what can we look forward to in 2013? Plenty, is my answer. The rumour is Mr Weller will be unveiling his latest work this year. Last Of The Troubadors will be releasing their latest EP, which will be even better than the first.

Stone Foundation, whose magnificent ‘Three Shades Of..’ from 2011 will be surpassed by a new LP that will see them build on their success thus far. Alpha 9 whose brand of harmonies and jangly guitars a-la-Byrds will have anew LP out in March. The recently discovered-thought-lost demo sessions by Reggie King will also be out soon.

Then of course Le Beat Bespoke 9 will be a belter. The line-up is superb, but if you like rhythm and blues and rock and roll, Saturday night is the one not to be missed. The Wild Records Revue featuring Gizzelle, Omar and the Stringpoppers and Rhythm Shakers is going to be something else. Be warned, get your tickets early for that one.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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February 5, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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In the Lap of the Mods

In the Lap of the Mods – A new book about 1960s group, The Action

‘In the Lap of the Mods’ tells the inside story of the 1960s’ most famous unsung heroes–the Action. This newest and much anticipated addition to the story of British popular music has ‘Christmas present’ written all over it. It was launched in central London in October with Pete Watson (guitar) and Roger Powell (drums) from the band were there to sign copies for the lucky people on the guest list and NUTSmag editor, Scotch Martin, spoke to them, and the author Jane Shepherd, about the project.

These days we’re falling over books about 60s mods, 80s mods, scooters, soul, psych, etc. It seems anyone who ever sewed a patch on a parka is writing their memoirs, and fair play to them. So do we need another book about mods? Of course we do, because this one is no ordinary book, and its protagonists were no ordinary mods.

By the mid 60s the Action became just about as big as it’s possible to get without so-called ‘mainstream success’. At one point it appeared they had it all their own way–signed to Parlophone they attracted the attention of Beatles record producer, George Martin, who then stuck with them through five failed singles, presumably as baffled by the lack of chart success as were the band themselves.

The white guitar-combo from Kentish Town successfully tackled complex, highly-orchestrated US soul tracks with a degree of confidence, arrogance even, that’s still hard to fathom. Filling brass and string parts with stunning harmonies they often succeeded in bettering the originals in my opinion, and in every case presented their own unique, soulful take on the music of Detroit and Chicago.

In spite of talent, style, charm and more than a few lucky breaks, a career at the forefront of British music going into the 70s slipped through their fingers. In 1968 the original group disbanded: the dream was over and the legend was born.

The background to how ‘In the Lap of the Mods’ came about over almost 20 years includes as much mystery, co-incidence and tragedy as the Action’s own story. It’s been a labour of love for co-author, fashion designer Jane Shepherd. Inspired by her late partner, Ian Hebditch, and with support from the band members and fans, Jane has delivered a stunning, informative and long overdue insight.

At the launch party in 229 Great Portland Street I asked her how she felt now that the book is published: “Thank f**k for that,” she laughs, but is clearly proud of it and of securing Ian’s legacy given the research and commitment he put into the project before his death.

“Roger and Pete approached us about doing a book in 2000 but we’d already been compiling information for about 10 years prior to that,” says Jane. “I remember being in Fun House Records in Margate and I picked up a copy of ‘The Ultimate Action’ LP. Ian said to me, ‘that’s the best f***kin’ live band I’ve ever seen’. I knew Ian had seen every band around at that time as he was involved in running the Midlands scene in the late 60s, so for him to say that was really something. He’d seen them over 40 times in their career.

“This isn’t a conventional book about a band, because they didn’t ‘make it’. To understand why the band didn’t achieve commercial success we had to understand who they were, as mods and as people. They were purists, constantly seeking self-improvement: the Action didn’t do covers, they did their own versions of other people’s songs.”

The book features contributions from all the original members–the late Reggie King and Michael Evans, plus Roger Powell, Pete Watson and Alan King, Ian Whiteman and Martin Stone. There’s comment from contemporaries including Pete Townshend and fans such as Phil Collins and Paul Weller.

The Action was exclusive, deliberately pedantic–and the mods got it. They were hugely talented and well-rehearsed, but more than that the quality-control was second to none. For me, as a die-hard soul fan, the Action has always been the exception to the rule–the band that really got it.

In the next edition of NUTsMag more from Jane Shepherd, as well as Martin’s interview with Pete and Roger from the Action and a full review of the book. In the Lap of the Mods’ is available to order on Amazon or from www.theactionbook.com priced £35.00, and will be available in all major book shops before Christmas.


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Scotch Martin

Since the local youth club in the early-eighties Martin’s been Djing with records of one sort or another. Spots at the CCI National Mod Rallies across Britain in the 80s were followed in 1990 by the first in a line of successful northern soul and mod clubs in Glasgow. With four others he started Goodfoot in 91, with Acid Jazz-influenced playlists of Blow Up in London, and Brighton Beach in Leeds. Goodfoot arguably paved the way for a new generation of mod-influenced clubs in Glasgow over the past 20 years. Living in London in the late 90s Martin DJ’d at neuvo-modernist clubs including Where’s Jude and Lordy Lord, as well as regularly spinning at Duffer of St. George parties and other happenings. A career highlight was supporting legendary organist, Jimmy Smith, as well as pulling off 10 consecutive club nights during the 1995 Glasgow Jazz Festival. By 2001, back in Glasgow, Caledoniasoul launched. A definitive milestone in the Scottish soul scene, the club ran for six years and brought Butch, Mick Smith, Mick H, Arthur Fenn, Mike Ritson, Dave Rimmer and Ady Croasdell to Scotland for the first time to experience the sweaty, full-on atmosphere for themselves. As a journalist Martin has always written about music. In 2004 he tracked down singer and organist, Bill Bush, whose soulful, jazzy rarity, I’m Waiting on Ronn, was hitting on the northern soul scene. After visiting Bill in the USA and interviewing him for Manifesto he brought the band over to perform in the UK, complete with Hammond B3, and has helped Bill profit for the first time from the 1968 b-side. Martin is married to Caroline, has two children, lives in the London suburbs. Still collecting after 30 years!

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November 26, 2012 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Nov 2012

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Book Reviews

The Action – In The Lap Of The Modsby Ian Hebditch & Jane Shepherd with Mike Evans & Roger Powell

With any book about music, film or subculture, the first thing I look at are the photos and graphics. Rest assured, no stone has been left unturned when it comes to the photos and graphics here. This book comes in two formats. The standard edition and the boxed set, which includes the main work plus ‘Where The Action Is’ a meticulous gig guide and press cuttings compilation and a replica test pressing of ‘Why Do You Wanna Make Me Blue’.

Ian Hebditch had spent years working on this project. Sadly, he passed away before it was completed, but his partner Jane Shepherd decided to carry on and finish Ian’s work and what a fine tribute to both Ian and The Action this book is. Intros from Mike Evans and Roger Powell and a Foreword by Sir George Martin CBE set the tone. As you would expect the story of The Action comes in chronological order from the very early days as Mark Twain and The Strangers, which included Keith Moon in the line-up, through to Sandra Barry and The Boys, which was the basis of the band celebrated herein.

The story of The Action is not remarkable in the context of their contemporaries from the Sixties. Many had similar experiences, but in terms of influence on successive generations and having a knack of avoiding the recognition they deserved, it is of particular interest. The interviews with band members and others, such as Pete Townshend are terrific. It’s not always easy getting people to recall events from decades past (I should know, I’ve done it myself) and it is even harder to get them to talk about the difficult times, but Hebditch seems to have managed this. Instead of being a read-it-all-before scenario, I particularly liked the way Ian did not rehash oft-told mod history in the conventional sense. By relating mod history to his own experiences growing up in Portsmouth, the local club, The Birdcage (which The Action played many a time) and Ian’s other mod experiences, it all makes for a refreshing and valid viewpoint.

The story of the band does not end in 1969. They split up and some formed the Mighty Baby. Alan King joined the band Ace with Paul Carrick on vocals, and then many years later our own Rob Bailey begins the painstaking process of getting all the band back together in 1998 for some gigs that will live long in the memory and rock folklore. Perhaps fittingly, the epilogue is provided by long-time fan, Phil Collins. It is a pleasure to read, a joy browsing the photos and interesting absorbing the details of an often-overlooked band. If you ever want to know about The Action, this is the only book you will need.

 

Record Collector – October 2012 Issue

Not every issue of Record Collector is of interest to us, but as and when an issue does appeal, I’ll happily review it. October’s offering is one such issue. The Kinks are on the front cover and with good reason. Within the pages of the mag is the first of a two-part special about the ‘Muswell Hillbillies’. Ray Davies gives a fairly candid account of the technical side to Kinks songs. The production, the studios, the technicians… all fascinating stuff.

Aside from The Kinks, there are another three great features of interest; Bunny Lee, The Dells and The Merseys.

 

Scootering – October 2012 Issue

The institution that is Scootering Magazine comes out with all guns blazing for the October issue. The ‘Scootering Sounds’ feature has been a very enjoyable and welcome addition, this time looking at The Clash’s ‘London Calling’.

Then we move on to a really good feature on the inside story of the Olympics closing ceremony and those 50 scooters, but without doubt, huge thanks goes to Sarge for a terrific three-page report on the NUTS Brighton August Bank Holiday. Plenty of great pics (as you’d expect) and we have the first sighting of a new descriptive term: comedy mods. Those of you who were there and witnessed the comedy mods will know what Sarge was taking about. He concluded by saying this year was the best so far, many would agree.

Further in to the mag and we find a nice two-pager on Euro Ye Ye, an interview with Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings about Bruce’s new album ‘Back In The Room’ and a very nice review of the Strypes EP ‘Young Gifted and Blue’ by Paul Hooper-Keeley.

To top it all, this issue includes a 48 page supplement looking back at reports about the Isle Of Wight Rally from the past. October 2012 will be one of those collector editions I suspect.

 

Ugly Things – Spring Summer 2012 Issue

For those of you with Garage/Psych/Freakbeat tendencies, you may well know about this very substantial publication from Mike Stax based in La Mesa, California. At $9.95 (£6.21 at time of writing) plus postage, this is quite an impressive offering. I freely admit, I’m not as into this music as some, so I did wonder what there might be to grab my interest.

How pleasantly surprised I was to find some fascinating articles about the San Francisco scene, an interview with Johnny Echols (former member of Love) and my favourite, an interview and article on the Craig (who were formed out of the King Bees).

Meticulous in its research, thorough in its interviews and great photos. A must for anyone who is in to the era.
Website: www.ugly-things.com
e-mail: uglythingsmag@gmail.com

 

Uncut – Ultimate Guide to Paul Weller 

When you think of the most high-profile influencers on mod and pop culture of the last 35 years, there is only one name that springs to mind, Paul Weller. Love him or loathe him, his impact on British music is without comparison.

So this major retrospective of his career is a timely reminder of the astonishing output spanning over three decades. Every album, from ‘In the City’ to ‘Sonic Kicks’ is re-evaluated. Key interviews are reprinted and there are lots of photos.

This is just about as ‘ultimate’ as you can get for a magazine guide to Weller’s career, whether you’re a long-time fan or someone just discovering Weller for the first time, this publication is a ‘collectable’ in the making. Coming from someone who has been a fan for 35 years, that’s saying something.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 16, 2012 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Masters – The Action (Roger Powell)

This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series Masters1

If ever an excuse was needed to chat about the life and music of mod’s favourite sons, the Action, the forthcoming biography of the band ‘In The Lap of The Mods’ by Ian Hebditch and Jane Shepherd surely provides it. A decade in the making, the book features contributions from all original band members: Reggie King, Mike Evans, Alan ‘Bam’ King, Pete Watson and Roger Powell; over 200 images including many previously unpublished photographs, flyers, posters and press cuttings; first-hand testimonials from fans and musical contemporaries; a complete guide to their gigs; and an examination of how the band’s mod following at clubs like the Birdcage in Portsmouth and the Marquee in London influenced their decision making as a band. In addition, this year also finally sees the release of an amazing new album on Circle Records of Reggie King’s post-Action demos, ‘Looking For A Dream,’ recorded with his ex-band mates during the late 60s. With these hugely exciting projects nearing completion it was a real honour and privilege to share a coffee and croissant with the Action’s drummer Roger Powell.

MR: – It was a wonderful surprise to recently see on the ‘In The Lap of The Mods’ website footage of The Action outside the Royal Albert Hall performing “I’ll Keep Holding On” for the Dick Clark Show. What do you remember about it?

RP: – Not a lot. It was a bit embarrassing to be honest. There were all these people throwing paper airplanes and generally just being shitty and we were miming and we used to hate miming. You couldn’t hear anything and had to pretend you were really getting in to it. We didn’t really like anything like that; we were pretty anti-social, anti-establishment.

MR: – Do you think that might have been why you didn’t go as far as you could’ve?

RP: – Oh yes. When we played with the Move they were saying you’ve got to do all these outrageous things, tie yourselves to railings and wear outrageous clothes, and we thought that was moving towards show business.

MR: – Did your manager Rikki Farr try to push you into a more commercial market and get a hit?

RP: – Yes, we knew we needed a manager as we needed publicity to get gigs. We’d built up a really good following on the circuit and could’ve carried on just doing that but Marquee Artists and Rikki obviously wanted to make money and get the right record for us because we were on £100 a night and once you had a hit record you’d be on £500 or more and go to gigs in cars, have roadies and stay in nice hotels. But none of the records I felt were anything near a hit record or anything edgy enough people would remember. We never felt comfortable going after a hit even though we went along with it putting records out but they weren’t really doing anything. I think “I’ll Keep Holding On” got to number 39 in the charts.

MR: – Was it disheartening to keep putting records out that didn’t hit?

RP: –  It wasn’t disheartening because we were there for the music; we weren’t there for the hit record although all the people around us were getting them: the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Who, Spencer Davis Group, Manfred Mann. It seemed everyone we played with at the Marquee had a hit record except for us.

MR: – Why do you think that was?

RP: – I think because they were doing original stuff and we were doing covers. And we never got an original cover. Something like “Ride Your Pony” would come out in America and someone else would do it in England. At the time we didn’t consider writing our own songs as there was so many cool records to explore we just enjoyed playing them. If we’d had an original cover first we might have had a hit record.

MR: – “Shadows and Reflections” was a very original cover.

RP: –  Yes but it didn’t get played, it didn’t get marketed, no machine behind it. It was who you know not what you know. You needed just the right contacts, like the Who had with Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. They had the key contacts, the money, and were right in with all of the faces of the time, although I think they would’ve hit anyway regardless.

MR: – Having George Martin as your producer must’ve helped.

RP: –  Being with George at Abbey Road helped but although “I’ll Keep Holding On” was alright and “Never Ever” was okay, you couldn’t do it without the machine behind you. You really needed the publicity, to know people at the BBC to actually plug it. And a lot of people bought their records in to the charts. They’d get a little sniff into the charts, once it was there, the DJs would play it, you’d get on the telly and you’d be away.  So from an initial investment of say ten grand you could make it back.

MR: – Mike Evans said when “I’ll Keep Holding On” got to number 39 that was when you needed to start buying up all the records.

RP: –  At that point there was a bit of a woo-hah about it. Early on you had a list of all the special shops they took the chart returns from so you could send boys and girls in to buy a copy of this, two copies of that. There were as many as twenty or thirty record shops in London where they took the charts from, so if you knew the right shops…

MR: – You still managed to get on Ready Steady Go a few times.

RP: –  I think we did it three times. We did it with Pete Stringfellow who was brought down from the Mojo Club in Sheffield to compere it and we played a couple of songs live on there. It was the first time anyone played live on Ready Steady Go and it gave us that appeal for the mods on the circuit and we got a really good following from it.

MR: – The book is titled In The Lap of The Mods, is that how it felt?

RP: –  Someone said it to me that we were in the lap of the mods and I thought it was great, so we used it as the title. That’s how it felt. They’d meet us on their scooters and we’d meet them in the pub before the gigs. We were like mates; there was no differentiation between us and the audience. We were all regular guys; we didn’t put on any airs and graces. It was all, “You got any leapers? Yeah, great”.

MR: – We refer to the Action nowadays as a Mod band but did you consider yourselves Mods? Did you think in those terms?

RP: –  No, I don’t think anybody did. I don’t think people had this idea early on of being this thing called mod. It was just smart blokes. We used to like mohair suits and very smart Italian clothes. We never really had a concept of what it was. I would say we were a sort of soul band.

MR: – The Small Faces had accounts the length of Carnaby Street for their clothes, where did yours come from?  Did you buy them yourselves?

RP: – Yeah, John Stephens, Carnaby Street, all those. We bought them ourselves. There’s a picture of us in the book outside Harry Fenton’s, once we’d put the clothes on and had our photograph taken we had to put the clothes back. “The Action supplied by Harry Fenton” but they never gave us anything. It was the same with drums. If I wanted to play Premier drums I had to buy them, you needed a hit record before they’d give you anything. Keith Moon got a contract with Premier.

MR: – Were you mates with Keith Moon and The Who?

RP: – Sort of because we did a lot of gigs with them and used to support them for quite a while so we were sort of friendly but they were always a bunch of piss takers so I didn’t really want to spend too much time around them. I remember at the press release at the Marquee for “Never Ever” Moonie was throwing peanuts at us.

MR: – Your drum kit had a two bass drum set-up which others also used, where did that idea come from?

RP: – A lot of people may tell you otherwise but I was definitely the first person to get two bass drums at the Marquee. Definitely. Then Moonie got two, Ginger Baker got two, Mitch Mitchell got two, and then most of the other drummers got two. So then I took mine away and just had the one. Buddy Rich had two bass drums and I thought it looked really smart, but it was nice with the tambourine as it gave that off-beat. We didn’t have someone playing the tambourine so when I was playing I didn’t use the hi-hat, just used the bass drum for the off-beat with the tambourine, which was important for The Action’s sound. You could do some amazing things with the two.

MR: – It gave you that good Motown sound. Where were you hearing those kinds of records?

RP: – We got them through Mike’s mum who worked for EMI so she used to get us all these obscure records. We weren’t really into the mainstream Tamla, we were into Stax and really obscure stuff. There was also the DJ at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. We used to go back to his house after the club to hear them and Guy Stephens used to give us stuff. That’s where we got a lot of the info. Then we’d learn them and try to put our own little spin on them.

MR: – When you did the all-nighters how many sets were you playing throughout the night?

RP: – Sometimes we’d do three sets. Three quarters of an hour each and usually you’d be the only band. They’d be records, we’d do a set, more records, then yet another set.

MR: – There must be a lot of songs you played live but didn’t record.

RP: – In the book there is a playlist of every song we ever played. We didn’t repeat songs in a night. We might occasionally do one twice if it was really popular. We wouldn’t repeat “Land of a 1000 Dances” or anything but “Needle in a Haystack” we might do twice or “Heatwave” as people loved that. We had a good lot of songs and we used to rehearse all the time.

MR: – The collector’s edition ‘In The Lap of the Mods’ includes your audition disc of The Temptations’ “Girl (Why Do You Want To Make Me Blue)” you made for Decca. What do you remember about that and Decca turning you down?

RP: – Nothing! I remember going in to this big executive office at their studios. We played three songs but only one was actually taped which was that one. Jane bought it on eBay. Mike knew it was genuine but was saying it wasn’t, so as to put off the other bidders!

MR: – Did you stay for the all-nighters after you’d played them?

RP: – Yes it wasn’t worth going back. They’d finish at six in the morning and we’d stay up and drive back with a little help so we weren’t falling asleep at the wheel.

MR: – Were you taking many drugs?

RP: – We were all on leapers most of the time because we were doing all-nighters and otherwise you just couldn’t keep going. We got busted at the Birdcage for amphetamines. We were all in the dressing room when suddenly all these policemen came in. Everyone was dropping stuff. I think they found some amphetamines in Mike’s pocket and took him away to the police station so we had to go and try getting him bailed out so we could finish the gig.

MR: – How did LSD enter the scene?

RP: – In the early days we were one of the first people to take acid because it had just come over from America and we knew people in Pond Street who had gallons of LSD. These people came over just to turn on London. And when we were staying with Nick Jones in Bognor this guy came down to turn us on and that was our first acid trip. I couldn’t believe it.

MR: – Was the trip arranged beforehand?

RP: – Yes, it was a party and it was about twelve o’clock and this guy was about to arrive.  We didn’t want to trip with all these people around so we thought we’d better try and get rid of them so we put on a crazy Albert Ayler LP and everyone said “I gotta go now”. He gave us this stuff, I think it was me and Mike, maybe Bam, but not all the band wanted to take it. I remember sitting there about half an hour later and looked at Mike and he looked at me and we just started laughing and laughing and laughing.  It made life so funny and so stupid. We tripped all night and went out to the beach. To be honest it did destroy people, I know a lot of people who didn’t make it. You needed a strong inner core and need to be comfortable with yourself.  We tripped actually on Ready Steady Go, me and Mike and then got spiked afterwards. We’d gone back to this guy’s house and were coming down from the trip and he gave us some toast and we started freaking out again wondering what was happening. He’d put more LSD on it. It was only when he told us that we thought thank goodness for that.

MR: – There seemed such a huge shift from the mod days once 1967 arrived.

RP: – By ’67 all the underground stuff started happening in London with the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Road. A lot of the psychedelic bands were self-indulgent nothing.  I didn’t like Pink Floyd or any of those bands, I couldn’t get into it. The all-nighters at the Roundhouse people were all over the place. The drugs had changed. With the old amphetamines everyone liked a chat, wanted to be your mate, it was brilliant. When people were taking acid it was totally different. It’s an important thing drugs and culture, they’re a totally interlinked thing. I mean, but even if the mods weren’t taking uppers they were very chatty, friendly people. At the Roundhouse people were isolated in their own heads, doing their own thing. It was like chalk and cheese. Mod gigs and the Roundhouse, unbelievable difference. I didn’t like the Roundhouse, it was too self-indulgent.

MR: – So what was it like when you were then playing one song for 45 minutes?

RP: – I wouldn’t call it psychedelic by any means. It was more jazzy, rock-jazz, but I liked the three minute things. In the space of half an hour you could get loads of brilliant records rather than one long thing. We lost touch with the club scene after a while, at the end of the Action, and got a bit disenchanted with it. The early days of the Action were the most exciting, when we were playing the Birdcage and stuff like that. That was an incredible time in the clubs.

MR: – When The Action got back together in 1998 it was great it was all original members, which is very unusual. How did that feel?

RP: – It had to be. We wouldn’t have done it otherwise. It was exciting and it felt like there was unfinished business, that somehow we hadn’t really closed the circle.  We knew it wasn’t going to be the same as we weren’t twenty anymore, so we knew it was going to be different but it was still worth doing as it was nice for people to see us again. It was awesome. I’m really pleased we did it as we got to meet people like Jane and Ian, Rob Bailey, yourself.

MR: – On some of the reunion shows you even included a sax player and some percussion; would you have liked to have had a Hammond player or a sax player back in the day?

RP: – I think so, it would have been great. That’s what I liked about Jimmy James and the Vagabonds; they had a nice big fat sound with an organist and a sax but the vocals were the main thing with the Action.

MR: – Did you help arrange the vocals harmonies?

RP: – Oh no, I wasn’t musical at all. Reg used to say, “Just shut up and bang the bloody drums!”  People used to call him Reg, and he’d say “Mister King, to you.”

MR: – Reggie was quite a character.

RP: – Reg was always a bit of wild card. He just started going funny, a bit out of control, towards the end of the Action days. We were playing a gig at the Blue Lagoon and all of a sudden Reg started climbing up this palm tree. The bouncers came up, Reg jumped off the tree, we’re still playing and the bouncers are chasing him around the audience whilst he’s still singing. “You’ll never play here again!” Then he got arrested on the M1 at the Blue Boar services. We’d eaten and had come out and were sitting in the van, ready to go, and it was “Where’s Reg?” We looked around, couldn’t find him and twenty minutes later this policeman comes up and knocks on the window. “Do you know Reg King?  He’s just been arrested for threatening someone with a plastic knife.” I don’t know what it was about, something about where he wanted to eat his egg and chips. Eventually we just decided, a sort of mutual thing, to move on. But he got his head together a bit and we worked with him on his album. The trouble was once we started doing stuff like John Coltrane’s “India” what was he going to do while we played that for half an hour? Stand there and go “Elephants… Elephants”?

MR: – Did you think Reg leaving would give the band more freedom or did you think that was going to be the end?

RP: – No, you just go through a transition you don’t think “Oh I’m changing now into something else.” It was very subtle. It’s only when you look back in retrospect you realise you’ve changed from A to B. So it didn’t affect us that much. After Reg, Rod Stewart was going to join the Action at one point. We knew him quite well and when Reg didn’t make a gig at the Twisted Wheel Rod sang a few songs with us. But it didn’t materialise as he then got into the Faces as they’d had some hits and were bigger than we were.  We also tried to get the organist Keith Emerson. I went round to his flat to ask him if he’d be interested and he said he would’ve been but was just joining the Nice. We got Ian Whiteman and Martin Stone in and became more of a jazz-funk-jamming band.

MR: – How did that go down with your audience?

RP: – It depended where we played. Some people were bored with it; some people sort of liked it. We got to a point where we didn’t know where we were and the audience didn’t know quite what we were doing.  It took us a bit of time to find our direction with Mighty Baby when we started writing our own stuff.

MR: – How long did you keep the Action name after Reg left?

RP: – About six months I think. It was sadly a bit of a mess really. We did want to somehow change. Pete Watson left, even when Reg was still with us people would come up to us at gigs and say “Oi, you’re not the Action!” which was fair enough really because we were doing new stuff we’d written and  we were all wearing Granny Takes A Trip suits. It was a transition period. We started getting into West Coast, Captain Beefheart, Love. Things like “Dustbin Full of Rubbish” which Ian Whiteman wrote was still the Action, but it wasn’t the Action. We didn’t have a new name basically until we went with John Hurd at Head Records and we said we had to change the name and he came up with Mighty Baby, which I wasn’t that keen on as it felt a bit silly but in retrospect it was all right and we then did a couple of albums.

MR: – Do you look back at the periods of the Action and Mighty Baby differently or is it one continuous thing?

RP: – No, as different lives, definitely. The Action was very exciting. The whole scene, the music, the atmosphere in the clubs was brilliant. As soon as you walked in those clubs, the Marquee, the Birdcage, you could feel people were really into it. With Mighty Baby you had to create an atmosphere with the music, you really had to win them over, which was more difficult. With Mighty Baby we were searching, it was a time of introspection and because we’d all downed massive amounts of LSD what we thought was real wasn’t real. Once you’d taken acid, tables were like vibrating with energy and flowers were absolutely stunning, you know. You have to rethink totally who you are and what life’s about. We became like travelling philosophers. I was listening to one of the Mighty Baby tracks on the train coming down, “Tasting The Life”, which is all about seeking, searching, holy islands.  Whenever we’d do gigs as Mighty Baby if there was a castle we’d go there, Stonehenge we’d stop there, so we were always seeking some meaning in life through our music. In Mighty Baby we were analysing life, who we were. In the Action we weren’t, we were just being the life.


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Mark Raison

I've spent three-quarters of my life wandering the mod path with detours down its side streets and dark alleys. From an enthusiastic youth to a still-enthusiastic-but-harder-to-tell grizzled old goat, I've dabbled in all parts of the scene from writing fanzines 'Round Midnight and Something Has Hit Me; to promoting bands; attempting to manage bands; singing in the mighty garage combo The Electric Fayre; putting on indie, psych and soul clubs including Freak Scene, Orange Sunshine, and Shake!; writing liner notes for Reg King releases on Circle Records; and, in fitter times, tucking away the odd goal for the New Untouchables. I still DJ from my box of R&B humdingers but more often you’ll find me tapping away on my blog at monkeypicks.co.uk. I like the poetry of Charles Bukowski and dislike the taste of cheese.

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May 21, 2012 By : Category : Articles Front Page Inspiration Interviews Scene UK Tags:, , , ,
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