Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vintage Stones

In honor of the publication of Keith Richards' fascinating memoirs entitled Life, I present some scans of vintage Stones articles from U.S. publications...enjoy the trip, and pick up Keef's book as soon as possible. It reads like one is having a pint at the local pub with him as he recounts wonderful anecdotes with wit and charm. Richards' comments regarding Mick Jagger are not without controversy, however, as you've probably heard by now...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Searchers' Saga...

The Searchers have always deserved more credit for their contributions to rock'n'roll; too often they have been viewed as a Merseyside band merely riding on the coattails of Fab Four. Their chiming, jangling guitar sound and their perfect harmonies influenced numerous bands who emerged after them, including the legendary Byrds. But what went wrong? What contributed to them becoming mere footnotes in pop music history?

The first setback occurred when vocalist/bassist Tony Jackson left the band in 1964 due to personality clashes with drummer and de facto leader, Chris Curtis. Jackson stated he would have stayed in a band with the other guys, but that he had never liked Curtis; Curtis claims Jackson threatened to blackmail him by revealing personal information if Jackson didn't get to sing lead on "Needles and Pins." (He didn't; the vocal duties went to lead guitarist Mike Pender, or as he was originally known, Pendergast.) Later, in 1966, Curtis suffered a nervous breakdown and left the band for a gig as a producer for Pye records. Soon thereafter, he left the music industry entirely (but not before being the impetus in creating the band that eventually became Deep Purple) and worked as a public servant and Liverpool, just as his friend Pete Best had done earlier after abandoning a career in music.

John McNally and Frank Allen, Jackson's replacement, continue to perform under the Searchers' name. Their official site can be accessed here:
Sadly, both Jackson and Curtis are now deceased.

Above are scans from various issues of Beat Monthly magazine, including one that has been autographed by Tony Jackson. Janet Lee, the original owner of my set of these mags, met some of the bands featured and obtained their autographs.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pretty Things Scrapbook

Unbowed and Unrepentant - Long Live the Pretty Things! One of the greatest rock'n'roll groups of all time - scarier, dirtier and more authentic than the Stones themselves (in my opinion), the Pretty Things could tackle any genre and excel in its execution. From blues to R&B to psych to prog to arena rock to power pop, they made the journey and continue to create their unique brand of Pretty Things Music, for which we fans are most grateful. Their last album, Balboa Island, was one of their strongest efforts to date. At this time, I am eagerly awaiting the deluxe edition of Parachute, their 1971 album, which was given the title of best album of the year by Rolling Stone magazine. To me, Parachute ranks at the very top along side S. F. Sorrow as the best PT albums. A dream of mine is to be able to meet Phil May and Wally Waller, my two favorite members, and tell them how much their music has meant to me.

Here are some scans from my Pretty Things collection, generously given to me by my friend, Jeff. "Come and See Me"is one of my favorite early Pretties tracks - sorry about the poor quality of the clip, but the music and humor certainly make it worth it!

Upcoming bands to be featured here include Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, the Nashville Teens, more Gerry and the Pacemakers, more Searchers, more stay tuned. Sorry for the lack of updates recently - real life has interfered with my hobbies tremendously of late...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This Is Mersey Beat!

Presented for your reading pleasure - a classic article on Mersey Beat from one of the greatest magazines ever, Record Collector. This segment is part of a larger 20 page section on the Mersey Beat phenomenon of the Sixties. Liverpool produced some amazing bands and songwriters, most of whom never reached the level of fame and respect that the Beatles attained. I am also sharing a YouTube posting (by Sids60sSounds) of The Big Three's first single. The Big Three were considered the best live band in Liverpool with a wild, raucous sound pre-dating the power trios of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream!

Enjoy this journey down the Cavern!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Don't Need an Invitation - Step Inside!

Often considered the British band that could only follow the Beatles and the Stones in terms of success, Manchester's Hollies began when childhood friends Graham Nash and Allan Clarke discovered how well their voices blended on their first day of school in 1947. When the two discovered rock'n'roll and became swept up in the skiffle craze that gripped England in the mid '50s, Nash and Clarke performed as a duo in Manchester's clubs under a variety of names. After the addition of Eric Haydock on bass, Vic Steele on lead guitar and Don Rathbone on drums, the band evolved from the Deltas into the Hollies, so named for the Christmas decoration rather than rock icon Buddy Holly. The band's fame began to grow, leading them to the coveted spot at the Cavern that was once held by the Beatles. In January 1963, they were invited to audition for the Parlophone label.

Steele dropped out of the band because he did not want to go professional, which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to The Hollies. Tony Hicks, an amazingly skilled lead guitarist, was soon asked to join. When Bobby Elliot joined as the new drummer, the classic Hollies line-up was in place. After a slow start, the Hollies began having hit after hit in their homeland, yet failed to replicate that success in the U.S., due in part to their record label's failures. Yet another line up change led to Haydock being replaced by Bernie Calvert on bass. Despite the set back, the Hollies finally found their American breakthrough hit single - "Bus Stop," written by Graham Gouldman (who also wrote "Heartful of Soul," "For Your Love," and "Evil Hearted You"for the Yardbirds, plus many other hits). Thus began their string of hits in the U.S.: "Stop Stop Stop," "Pay You Back with Interest," "On a Carousel," and "Carrie-Anne." Even when Nash left the Hollies at the end of 1968 to form Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Hollies continued to have great success with singles like "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and "Long Cool Woman."

I may be in the minority, but my favorite Hollies excursions are their lovely ventures into purely British psychedelia, which some might find a bit "twee" (I love twee myself). I adore Evolution, particularly in mono, and Butterfly, which is probably their most realized and cohesive psychedelic album.

I've included a live performance of one of my favorites of theirs, one that isn't heard as often as it should be, "I Can't Let Go"...enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Calling All You Ravers!

British Invasion - Small Faces from Naxos of America on Vimeo.

The above is a trailer for the Small Faces documentary, All or Nothing, which is a part of the brilliant new set that also includes docs on Dusty, Herman's Hermits, and Gerry & The Pacemakers.

This excellent review by the well-respected Gene Sculatti was passed on to me by Mr. Bob Merlis:

The British Invasion
Gerry & the Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield, The Small Faces and Herman’s Hermits
Reelin’ In The Years/Voyage Digital Media
By Gene Sculatti
Well, as F. Zappa put it at one time or another, this is a tasty little sucker. Available as four individual volumes (on Dusty Springfield, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Small Faces and Herman’s Hermits) or as a deluxe box set (which adds a fifth, two-and-a-half-hour disc), it’s a welcome addition to the documentation of mid-’60s music. If its scope is limited--let’s hope for additional volumes--this set is a giant leap forward from the usual fare, which has tended to be thin on footage and way too long on a short list of talking heads. Indeed, British Invasion’s chief assets are the abundance and quality of its visuals (all full performances, from vintage TV appearances) and the insights and brevity of its commentaries (from artists and associates; no critics).

Watching these, it’s hard to dispel the notion that the Invasion’s first wave was its freshest splash, that after the Summer of Love the waters got overly roiled. Supporting evidence: the Pacemakers set, It’s Gonna Be All Right 1963-1965 and the Hermits’ Listen People 1964-1969. If “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” still sounds drippy, Gerry’s pop-rockers (most of the 17 clips) are alive and kicks-filled: “I Like It,” “Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” “I’m the One,” “Pretend.” As for the Hermits, admittedly the stories about producer Mickie Most and how the band came to cut stuff like “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” are as interesting as some of the tracks themselves, but the Shindig, Ed Sullivan Show and other-sourced performances of “I’m Into Something Good,” “Wonderful World,” “Dandy,” “There’s a Kind of a Hush,” etc. convey perfectly the innocent joy of the era. In footage from a 1964 Cavern Club performance of “Fortune Teller,” Peter Noone looks like, and dances about as well as, Jagger did at the same stage.

The Small Faces obviously rate as a more important outfit than Herman’s or Gerry’s. For Steve Marriott’s singing and guitarring alone, All or Nothing 1965-1968 is essential. This is also the most music-dense volume, packing 27 performances into its set list. “Watcha Gonna Do About It,” “Sha La La La La La Lee” and the impossibly great “All or Nothing” burn, as do “Here Come the Nice” and “Itchycoo Park,” but the nine primitively psychedelic clips from 1968’s Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake tend to run on. Still, such footage retains an edge, a real go-for-broke adventurousness that was the later 60s’ defining quality, and it’s something the merely pop-leaning Pacemakers and Hermits clips conspicuously lack.

No such distinctions mar Dusty Springfield’s Once Upon a Time 1964-1969. She’s on target throughout the period, singing superbly and, just as crucial, selecting her material with unerring instincts. Here the former Mary O’Brien is seen in almost two dozen TV performances (a great “All Cried out” from a ’66 Sullivan show, a ’65 “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”) and amply analyzed--by herself in a 1978 interview and in a recent sit-down with Burt Bacharach. Once Upon a Time may be The British Invasion’s most consistently enjoyable view. Dusty also occupies the lion’s share of the box set’s bonus disc: 10 more TV performances (including “I Only Want to Be with You” and “24 Hours from Tulsa”) and additional Australian interview footage. The Hermits pop in for seven more performances (all from 1967), and there are 90 minutes of interviews with Noone, Marsden, Bacharach and various Faces (including the last filmed Q&A with Ronnie Lane). Two thumbs up. Now, how about volumes on the rest of the armada--Kinks, Zombies, Animals, Hollies and let’s not leave out the Pretty Things--for starters?

— 03/05/2010

Stay tuned for more information about this set, which is also featured in the latest Goldmine and the next Ugly Things!

The scans above are from the August 1966 issue of Rave, the '60s music and fashion magazine.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A New Entry Soon...

Greetings, Fellow Brit Invasion Fans - Sorry for the lack of updates recently...far too busy for the moment. I will update very soon with a special entry on the amazing new British Invasion DVD set featuring Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, Herman's Hermits, and Gerry and the Pacemakers! Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pieces from a Cherished Collection

For my birthday, my friend (and patron!) Jeff sent me a parcel containing original copies of the first 20 issues of BEAT (later BEAT Instrumental) Monthly. These issues were lovingly owned by a young girl from Sussex who managed to snag autographs from Sounds Incorporated, Tony Jackson (of the Searchers) and a couple of members of the Dakotas. I imagine she saw all the bands as they came through her town. She had an obvious affection for the Rolling Stones, long before their chart success, evidenced by the arrow-pierced hearts in red. I hope that wherever she is, there is a way for her to know that her cherished collection is in good hands.

These scans were all taken from 1963 and 1964 issues of BEAT Monthly, and (obviously) all focus on the Rolling Stones. They don't seem so scary, do they?