19 October 2016

Offered With Very Little Comment - Prime Evil, Brian "No Chance" Green, Tommy Farrell, White Gold

Inevitably, digging through record crates and remainder bins and going on ebay to search for interesting looking vinyl can bring forth an embarrassment of riches and... well, an overload of "meh". Records which are neither awful or good, by artists of whom little is known, creating music which was typical for its era and not in any way groundbreaking or surprising.

When I started this blog I prided myself on having something to say about everything I created an entry about, but these four singles have been sitting on my "to upload" list for over a year now, and try though I do I really cannot think of any insights to offer. Nor for the most part have I been able to uncover much information about any of the artists. It seems as if the best way of dealing with the situation is to offer them up for listening whilst not exhausting my tired brain trying to come up with interesting ways of putting them into any sort of context.

"Why upload them at all?" you may ask, and the answer to that is simple: "I guarantee you someone, somewhere will have been looking desperately to hear one of these singles. And not just the singer's cousin, either".

I might do this again on occasions where there's not much else to talk about - or I may not. We'll see. For now, though, here's your discs:

Artist: Prime Evil
Song: King Kong, King Kong (Parts 1 & 2)
Label: Mainspring
Year of Release: 1976

Pounding, tribal, synth-infested novelty disco record describing the events in the King Kong film. Scott Walker, of course, also precisely described the events in a classic film when he recorded "Seventh Seal". It sounded absolutely nothing like this, though I suppose the vocalist is emoting quite powerfully here. 

Artist: Brian (No Chance) Green
Songs: Now You're Gone/ 'Tain't No Sin
Label: Fontana
Year of Release: 1967

Seemingly a slice of Trad Jazz issued on a major label at a point when most people in the UK had long since given up on Trad Jazz and it had become a seriously niche concern. The flip is nice and lively, but really not my bag.

Artist: Tommy Farrell
Songs: You Made Me Lie To You/ Soon
Label: Beacon
Year of Release: 1969

Super-scarce Beacon 45 which hardly ever turns up anywhere, but really isn't much of a collectible, largely due to the fact that it's a fairly run-of-the-mill ballad. 

Artist: White Gold
Songs: Cross My Heart/ I Will Always Love You
Label: Logo
Year of Release: 1978

Smooth and smoochy disco action, nicely constructed and produced. 

16 October 2016

Reupload - Money - Come Laughing Home/ Power Of The Rainbow

Label: Major Minor
Year of Release: 1969

"Stop wasting your time looking for obscurities," a rather pushy record dealer said to me a couple of weeks ago. "There's nothing out there that hasn't been compiled or DJ'ed with already, and even if you think you find a good record nobody's heard of, I guarantee you somebody out there has." 
"Ah yes, Mr Dealer, but what if they found a record, believed it to be crap, and wrongly put it to one side?" I replied. Well actually, I didn't.  I just nodded and smiled at him politely whilst those very thoughts ran through my head.

 Of course, he had a very good point.  It is indeed becoming a near-impossible mission to find anything new that's interesting, particularly from eras where the lucky dip has been well and truly picked dry.  Given the enormous array of blogs out there, the endless unofficial compilations of obscure material it's impossible to keep track of, and street-smart retro DJs with money to burn, you can never definitely state that you're the first person to be wowed by a track.  So naturally, when I say to you readers "This is a good record which appears to have been ignored", it should be taken with a tiny pinch of salt. It could be played weekly at your local popsike bop for all I know.

Obviously I'm leading up to the point that Money's "Come Laughing Home" is a really pleasant surprise, despite being rather tartly dismissed by a couple of other sources.  When you see a record label clearly stating that the tune is from a theatre production - in this case Keith Waterhouse's play of the same name - you tend not to expect more than a saccharine pop ballad with a gentle orchestra behind it.  This, on the other hand, introduces itself with some doomy organ chords, the repeated pleading refrain "Come home!" before launching headlong into a sweet and wistful piece of harmony-drenched popsike.  Reminiscent of a likable Roy Wood penned ballad and containing riffs which sound similar to fragments of "Dancing In The Moonlight" in places, the A-side is summery, breezy and chipper without being irritating.  I don't want to overstate the case here, but it's surprising that this one hasn't received a bit more attention from collectors.

Sadly, the flip "The Power Of The Rainbow" really isn't worth troubling yourselves with too much, being a rather dull pop ballad.

Money apparently hailed from Manchester, but information about them is otherwise hard to come by.  One more single entitled "Breaking Of Her Heart" was issued in 1970 before they disappeared off pop's map, and if you know who they were and what else they did, please do let me know.

(Since this blog entry was originally uploaded in July 2012, a few facts have come forward. Key players in the recording, Ray Teret and Mel Scholes, were apparently also DJs on Signal in Stoke. Something I should also have spotted first time around is that this is a Bill Kenwright production, who had a background in musical theatre and acting, and is of course these days is Chair of Everton FC. 

That seems to it, but if anyone knows anything more, please let me know. Somebody called Emma Tanton dropped me a line promising more information, but it was never forthcoming -if you want to get back in touch again, I'll be all ears). 

12 October 2016

Dee Eldridge - Joys Of Alicia/ Half As Much

Label: Major Minor
Year of Release: 1970

This is a very obscure and very late piece of girl-pop. Issued in 1970 but sounding incredibly like a mid sixties piece of work, little is known about the performer Dee Eldridge. The track itself contains everything lovers of the twee end of sixties pop enjoy - gentle, sprightly lyrical musing on the fate of a poor deluded unfortunate with a fey name, pounding drum-work, and bouncy catchiness.

Copies of this are difficult to come by now, and it hasn't really picked up a lot of love from popsike aficionados probably partly due to its relative lightness, and also partly due to its 1970 release date. However, it's deftly performed by Eldridge, and the chorus is worthy of the likes of Sandie Shaw. Nicky Welsh also does the usual solid job of arranging the track into shape.

It's unlikely to undergo a serious reassessment, but in a crate-digging world that tends to offer very little new finds of interest from this period, it's reassuring to know that there are still good singles out there worthy of fresh pairs of ears - and this, while not breath-taking, is certainly a cheering listen.

9 October 2016

Lunar Funk - Mr. Penguin (Parts One and Two)

Label: Bell
Year of Release: 1972

"My name... is Mr. Penguin - you do your thang/ and I'll do my thang/ ha ha ha ha ha ha..."

I stumbled upon this record purely by chance in the soul and disco section of a second hand record store, and bought it on the strength of the band's name and the song title alone. "This," I thought, "is either going to be abysmal or great. And whichever it is, I bet I can at least write about it".

And guess what? "Mr. Penguin" is fantastic and truly absurd, though a lot of funk purists have been rather critical of this in some places online. Driven by fantastic jazzy electric organ riffs and a persuasive funk-disco beat, it tops the whole thing off with absurd, almost threatening spoken interruptions from the chap who identifies himself as "Mr. Penguin". He's deadpan, his laughter is somewhat hollow, and he couldn't give a fig what we think of him. It's the kind of record you'd place firm money was in Prince's collection somewhere at Paisley Park; it seems utterly at home with the man's love of funky riffs and also borderline psychedelic absurdity. So too can I imagine this finding favour with sixties mod types and Acid Jazz heads far more than it's likely to please the discerning, "serious" funk crowd. 

The track was also apparently put together in something of a hurry by the musicians Leroy Emmanuel, Mose Davis, Demo Cates and Andrew Gibson. Complaining to their employers that they had no money coming in for Christmas 1972, they were rushed into the studio to cut a couple of tracks which all concerned hoped would reverse the situation. One of the tracks, "Crawl Y'All", was issued under the band name Bad Smoke on Chess Records, then there was this little number for Bell, a single the label were apparently desperate to own and coughed up handsomely for. It became something of a dancefloor hit in the aftermath and was heavily played at a couple of regional American stations, and Radio Luxembourg in Europe, but it's become largely forgotten since.

Blues & Soul magazine published a review of this record in 1972 which stated "Rumour has it that it is completely electrical, and there are, in fact, no musicians involved". Lord alone knows where this rumour stemmed from - a mischievous record label employee, I'm sure - but it's obviously total balderdash. It does, however, bring to mind some of the more ridiculous lines from Chris Morris's "Club Night" guides on the Bluejam radio show. "He uses guns, by the way, and there's no floor in the club at all". 

5 October 2016

The Weltons - Hang 10 Hang 10/ Ali Cat

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1977

The seventies was an era completely awash with family bands, from The Jacksons to The Osmonds to The Nolans, but The Weltons (Steve, Paul, Julie and Mark) never really achieved the heights of any of those three bands. They came close to mainstream fame on a variety of occasions, enjoying television exposure in the late seventies on "Opportunity Knocks" and elsewhere. They also earned a chance to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982 (they were beaten by Bardo) but overall, it was a case of "close but no cigar".

"Hang 10 Hang 10" is probably the finest single in their largely ignored catalogue, being a fairly rough and ready pub rock/ glam hybrid dedicated to the joys of surfing. Filled with catchy analogue synth noises and a simple and effective guitar riff, it's stripped back and basic stuff, but no worse for it.

Sadly, one gets the feeling that all this was a bit too old hat for 1977, and their sound - neither punk nor disco nor hard rock - struggled to find a place in the hearts of music lovers at that time. Following their failure to represent Britain at Eurovision, they appeared to fade away from public sight, though you have to wonder if they occasionally get their amps and guitars out at Christmasses and weddings in the Welton clan. I'd like to think so.