Saturday, October 28, 2006

Top soul singles

Here are my five most valuable soul 45s according to the new Rare Record Guide:
1. Marvelettes - Locking up my heart. £350 2. Invitations - What's wrong with me baby (demo) £300.

3. Formations - At the top of the stairs (demo) £250.


4. Tams - Hey girl don't bother me (demo) £200.


5. Temptations - My girl (demo) £150.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Record values

I bought the new version of the Rare Record Guide yesterday. This is the 2008 edition, which some people might consider somewhat premature as we're not even into 2007 yet. Comparing record values between the new and old guides gives some indication of the state of the vinyl market. In general, rock and roll records have slipped a little in value (potential buyers are dying off I guess) although there are exceptions. Oh Julie by The Crescendos, for example has jumped from £60 to £110. I've no idea why.
Some 1960s pop releases, especially later ones, have disappeared altogether, while there have been modest increases in categories such as ska and girl groups. The biggest rises are in the areas of Northern Soul and Motown where, for the first time, DJ or demo copies are valued as well as standard releases. Suddenly I discover that a number of Tamla Motown and other demo singles in my collection are worth three figure sums, which makes up for some others that have declined in value.
There's a huge section in the guide on the records of Bob Dylan, which, like that on the Beatles, delves into the minutiae of matrix numbers, label design and so on giving different values for each. It will be a mind boggling task working out which particular version I have and, given that the values don't vary much, a fairly pointless one. Still, if I'm anorak enough to go through the Guide checking the values of every record in my collection no doubt I'm prepared to have a go.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Beatles make their mark

The personal top tens that I wrote down so assiduously from 1960 to 1965 featured mainly US records, but the Beatles made it into the list on one occasion - Love me do made it to number 10 on October 25, 1962. It was the only time a British beat group managed an entry. Here are my top tens from around this date:
Oct 24, 1960: 1= Devil or angel - Bobby Vee, and It's now or never - Elvis; 3. Save the last dance for me - Drifters; 4. You've got to move two mountains - Marv Johnson; 5. I just go for you - Jimmy Jones; 6. Learning the game - Buddy Holly; 7. Humdinger - Freddy Cannon; 8. Blue angel - Roy Orbison; 9. My heart has a mind of its own - Connie Francis; 10. Sweeter as the day goes by - Mickey and Sylvia.
Oct 22, 1961: 1. Take good care of my baby - Bobby Vee; 2. His latest flame - Elvis; 3. Feel it - Same Cooke; 4. One track mind - Bobby Lewis; 5= Runaround Sue - Dion, and This time - Troy Shondell; 7. Take five - Dave Brubeck; 8. You must have been a beautiful baby - Bobby Darin; 9. Little sister - Elvis; 10. Ever loving - Ricky Nelson.
Oct 25, 1962: 1= Working for the man - Roy Orbison, and He's a rebel - Crystals; 3. Nothing can change this love - Sam Cooke; 4. Warmed over kisses - Brian Hyland; 5. Let's dance - Chris Montez; 6. No one can make mu sunshine smile - Everly Brothers; 7. He got what he wanted - Little Richard; 8. The cha cha cha - Bobby Rydell; 9. Limbo rock - Chubby Checker; 10= Hully gully baby - Dovells, Minnesota Fats - Johnny & the Hurricanes, and Love me do - The Beatles.
Oct 23, 1963: 1. Be my baby - Ronettes; 2. Let it rock - Chuck Berry; 3. The girl sang the blues - Everly Brothers; 4. Honolulu Lulu - Jan & Dean; 5. Deep purple - Nino Tempo & April Stevens; 6. Donna the prima donna - Dion; 7= I'll take you home - Drifters, Will power - Cookies, The trouble with boys - Little Eva, Wild - Dee Dee Sharpe, Don't think twice it's alright - Peter Paul & Mary, and A love so fine - Chiffons.
Oct 24, 1964: 1. When I grow up - Beach Boys; 2. That's where it's at - Sam Cooke; 3. Baby I need your loving - Four Tops; 4. Ain't that loving you baby - Elvis; 5. You must believe me - Impressions; 6. GTO - Ronny & the Daytonas; 7= He's in town - Tokens, and Dancing in the street - Martha & the Vandellas; 9. Do I love you - Ronettes; 10. Rhythm - Major Lance.
Oct 23, 1965: 1. Treat her right - Roy head; 2. Sugar dumplings - Sam Cooke; 3. It's too late baby - Arthur Prysock; 4. No pity in the naked city - Jackie Wilson; 5. 1-2-3 - Len Barry; 6. Go now - Bessie Banks; 7. Cry no more - Ben E King; 8. In the midnight hour - Wilson Pickett; 9. I want to - Joe Tex; 10. We didn't ask to be brought here - Bobby Darin.

New York Dolls

Being at a loose end last night I went to see the New York Dolls at the Forum. It was a fairly ear splitting experience but an interesting one. The two remaining original members David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain showed plenty of energy and enthusiasm and the show improved as it went on. It would have been good to have seen them in their heyday in the early seventies when their outrageous camp appearance and in your face stage act paved the way for the punk era that followed. I have a soft spot for punk, because it re-awakened my interest in pop music at a time when the blandness of seventies music seemed to have killed it stone dead. But I was only marginally aware of the New York Dolls, who by that time had long since drifted into drug-fuelled oblivion.
Today, Johansen continues to look like an ageing clone of Mick Jagger and his cigarette smoke ravaged voice is rough and out of tune but he still has a degree of stage presence. Highlights of the show were Pills, Trash, Fishnets and Cigarettes and You can't put your arms around memories, a tribute to Johnny Thunders who died of an overdose in New Orleans during Jazzfest 1991. Many of the numbers were unfamiliar to me, but the ageing ex-punks in the audience seemed to know them all. I'm not going to rush out to buy their newish CD on the basis of this occasionally exciting but basically tuneless performance, but the New York Dolls can still put on a polished show, even if they do assault the eardrums mercilessly.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy birthday Chuck

I really couldn't let today go by without wishing a happy 80th birthday to the great Chuck Berry. Chuck can lay claim to being possibly the most influential figure in pop music over the last 50 years. His classic recordings from the late 50s and early 60s have stood the test of time and have been the inspiration for countless others who have followed in his wake. His live performances have sometimes been criticised for their brevity or lack of polish, largely due to the fact that usually plays with pick up bands. But I have never failed to enjoy at least parts of his shows and for me the very fact that he is still here, playing his guitar like ringing a bell and doing his duck walk, are enough to send me home happy.
Chuck, you have lit up my life and that of millions of fans the world over. Best wishes from a fan.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The last teardrop falls

Anyone who was at the Texas Tornados gig at what used to be known as the Town and Country Club back in 1991 will remember it as being one of the gigs of the decade. Each of the four members of the band - Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender - brought something very special to the band and Tex Mex music never sounded quite as sweet as it did in their hands. The death of Freddy Fender at the weekend brought back memories of that fantastic evening just as the death of Doug Sahm did a few years back.
Freddy's career has been well documented in the rash of obituaries that have appeared in the press today. He was a one off, with a foot in various musical camps ranging from country through Tex Mex to rock and roll. Some of his body of work was maudlin, to say the least, but his superb voice shone through the most maukish material and his two most famous recordings Wasted Days and Wasted Nights and Before the Next Teardrop Falls are undoubted classics.
Talking of the Texas Tornados, I saw them once at Tipitina's in New Orleans, but without Freddy, who was ill I believe. Guesting with them was Roy Head, who had come out of retirement at the time for that one off show. Another great evening.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Classic top tens continued

My top tens from this week 1960-65:
Oct 13, 1960: 1. MacDonald's cave - Piltdown Men; 2. You've got to move two mountains - Marv Johnson; 3. Devil or angel - Bobby Vee; 4. I just go for you - Jimmy Jones; 5. Rocking goose - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 6. Wondrous place - Billy Fury; 7. Three nights a week - Fats Domino; 8. Chain gang - Sam Cooke; 9. So sad - Everly Brothers; 10= A woman, a lover, a friend - Jackie Wilson and Top teen baby - Garry Mills.
Oct 16, 1961: 1. You must have been a beautiful baby - Bobby Darin; 2. This time - Troy Shondell; 3. One track mind - Bobby Lewis; 4. Runaround Sue - Dion; 5. Ever lovin' - Rick Nelson; 6. I like it like that - Chris Kenner; 7. Hit the road Jack - Ray Charles; 8. Cryin' - Roy Orbison; 9. Let the four winds blow - Fats Domino; 10. Without you - Johnny Tillotson.
Oct 10, 1062: 1. He got what he wanted - Little Richard; 2. Let's dance - Chris Montez; 3. Nothing can change this love - Sam Cooke; 4. Workin' for the man - Roy Orbison; 5. Swiss maid - Del Shannon; 6= No one can make my sunshine smile - Everly Brothers, He's a rebel - Crystals, Welcome home baby - Shirelles, and Point of no return - Gene McDaniels; 10= If a man answers - Bobby Darin, and Green onions - Booker T & the MGs.
Oct 13, 1963: 1. Be my baby - Ronettes; 2. Let it rock - Chuck Berry; 3. Donna the prima donna - Dion; 4. I'll take you home - Drifters; 5. Sally go round the roses - Jaynetts; 6. Honolulu Lulu - Jan & Dean; 7. Then he kissed me - Crystals; 8= Pretty thing - Bo Diddley, and The girl sang the blues - Everly Brothers; 10= The trouble with boys - Little Eva, and Busted - Ray Charles.
Oct 11, 1964: 1. Baby I need your loving - Four Tops; 2. Rhythm - Major Lance; 3. Little GTO - Ronny & the Daytonas; 4. You must believe me - Impressions; 5- Where did our love go - Supremes, and Baby love - Supremes; 7= Out of sight - James Brown, and Cousin of mine - Sam Cooke; 9= Always something there to remind me - Lou Johnson, Mercy mercy - Don Covay, and Remember (walking in the sand) - Shangri-las.
Oct 10, 1965: 1. It's too late baby - Arthur Prysock; 2. Treat her right - Roy Head; 3. Sugar dumplings - Sam Cooke; 4. No pity in the naked city - Jackie Wilson; 5. In the midnight hour - Wilson Pickett; 6. Go now - Bessie Banks; 7. I want to - Joe Tex; 8. We didn't ask to be brought here - Bobby Darin; 9. Dance dance dance - Beach Boys; 10. Respect - Otis Redding.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Death of a Moonglow


Prentiss Barnes, bass singer with the Moonglows, has died aged 81 after a life that involved highs and lows. The Moonglows - named by Alan Freed after his Moondog nickname - had some of the biggest doowop hits of the 50s, including Sincerely and Ten Commandments of Love. The group was featured in one of the early rock and roll films Rock Rock Rock, along with Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, LaVern Baker and the Johnny Burnette Trio.
But after the heady days of the 50s and the decline of doowop, an attempt at a solo comeback ended in disaster. His car was hit by a train on a level crossing and he survived minus one arm and with a shattered hip. He turned to drink and survived on social security until a trust fund set up in the 80s helped him recover some of his lost royalties. And then the final tragedy - he died in a car crash.
Prentiss Barnes was never a household name, but his deep voice in the classic Moonglows sides for Chess was unmistakable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yet more classic top tens


More favourites from my top tens of the early 60s:
Oct1, 1960: 1. So sad - Everly Brothers; 2. McDonald's cave - Piltdown Men; 3. Rocking goose - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 4= You've gotta move two mountains - Marv Johnson, I just go for you - Jimmy Jones, & Chain gang - Sam Cooke; 7. Wondrous place - Billy Fury; 8. A woman, a lover, a friend - Jackie Wilson; 9. Walk don't run - The Ventures; 10. Top teen baby - Gary Mills.
Oct 3, 1961: 1. Cryin' - Roy Orbison; 2. I like it like that - Chris Kenner; 3. You must have been a beautiful baby - Bobby Darin; 4= Let the four winds blow - Fats Domino, and Without you - Johnny Tillotson; 6. My boomerang won't come back - Charlie Drake (ugh!); 7. Sweet little you - Neil Sedaka; 8. Tribute to Buddy Holly - Mike Berry; 9. All these things - The Kestrels; 10. You don't know what you've got - Ral Donner.
Oct 2, 1962: 1. He got what he wanted - Little Richard; 2. Point of no return - Gene McDaniels; 3. Let's dance - Chris Montez; 4. Welcome home baby - The Shirelles; 5. I want to thank your folks - Johnny Burnette; 6. Sweet little sixteen - Jerry Lee Lewis; 7= If I didn't have a dime - Gene Pitney, and If a man answers - Bobby Darin; 9. Green onions - Booker T & the MGs; 10. It might as well rain until September - Carole King.
Oct 3, 1963: 1. Let it rock - Chuck Berry; 2. Donna the prima donna - Dion; 3. Pretty thing - Bo Diddley; 4. Then he kissed me - The Crystals; 5. Blue bayou - Roy Orbison; 6. Sally go round the roses - The Jaynetts; 7. Frankie and Johnny - Sam Cooke; 8. Mickey's monkey - The Miracles; 9. Memphis Tennessee - Chuck Berry; 10. Monkey time - Major Lance.
Oct 7, 1964: 1. Baby I need your loving - Four Tops; 2. Rhythm - Major Lance; 3. Where did our love go - The Supremes; 4. Little GTO - Ronny & the Daytonas; 5. Out of sight - James Brown; 6. Try it baby - Marvin Gaye; 7. Remember (Walking in the sand) - Shangri-Las; 8. Pretty woman - Roy Orbison; 9. The little old lady from Pasadena - Jan & Dean; 10. My babe - Little Walter.
Oct 4, 1965: 1. It's too late baby - Arthur Prysock; 2. In the midnight hour - Wilson Pickett; 3. Sugar dumplings - Sam Cooke; 4. Treat her right - Roy Head; 5. No pity in the naked city - Jackie Wilson; 6. I want to - Joe Tex; 7. Dance dance dance - The Beach Boys; 8. Action - Freddy Cannon; 9. Respect - Otis Redding; 10- California girls - The Beach Boys, and Last love, last kiss, goodbye - Joe Williams.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No sleaze in Salt Lake


I can safely say that Salt Lake City is not a centre for music and/or excitement. The weather on my trip was fantastic and the Bingham Canyon mine was awesome, but the city centre, attractive though it is, has a total lack of atmosphere. This is undoubtedly down to the Mormons, who even today make up two thirds of the population of Utah. There are a few restaurants but no bars to speak of and certainly no sleazy night clubs. A happy smily Mormon girl - Sister Hale - did her best to convert me and the journalists who I was there with, but it would take someone with the brain the size of a pea to believe all the claptrap that makes up the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS for short) religion. Apparently Robert Redford lives just outside of town in the ski resort of Sundance, where he hosts an annual film festival, but I doubt that he spends much time in the fleshpots of Salt Lake.
After Salt Lake I went up to Vancouver for a couple of days. There was similar weather there (first time I've been and it hasn't rained non-stop) but a very different kind of town. I didn't catch any music but there's plenty going on there. It's full of pubs, clubs and restaurants. Unfortunately I was so tired that I slept through most of it, and now I'm back in the UK where autumn appears to have sneaked in while I was away. It will be all downhill now for the next six months as we move into winter.