Friday, August 23, 2013

Vinyl obscurities - the Strike label

I'm returning to my occasional series on obscure 45s, this time taking a look at the short-lived Strike label, which operated in 1966 and 1967. The label was set up by two interesting characters named Lionel Segal and Adrian Jacobs who jointly ran a music publishing company called Millwick. Segal was a composer and lyricist who had success with West End musicals and sold up Strike after a big win at blackjack which allowed him to move to Wales, where he continued to write musicals. He set up the Gallery of Antique Costume and Textiles, which became a centre for textile and fashion designers, attracting the likes of Kate Moss, Stella McCartney and John Galliano. Jacobs, meanwhile, became infamous for his dodgy business dealings in the sixties eventually becoming bankrupt, married a former Miss United Kingdom and wrote a children's book called Willie The Wizard which was claimed after his death to have been plagiarised by J K Rowling for her Harry Potter character.
1. Neil Christian - That's Nice/ She's Got The Action. Mint value £10. The label got off to a successful start with this poppy Miki Dallon produced and written record which reached the top 20. Christian had earlier toured with his band the Crusaders which included Jimmy Page and had a Joe Meek-produced 45 released on Columbia. The band broke up and a new group of Crusaders toured to promote That's Nice which included Elmer Twitch on piano (better known as Joe Brown) and Ritchie Blackmore. Despite a couple more 45s on Strike, Neil couldn't repeat his chart success.
2. Miki Dallon - Cheat and Lie/ I'm Gonna Find a Cave. Mint value £40. As well as being involved with Neil Christian, Miki Dallon was also a songwriter (including Take a Heart for the Sorrows and That's Alright for Mickie Most) and would-be R and B singer, releasing a couple of singles each on RCA and Strike.The excellent Cheat and Lie is surprisingly unavailable on Youtube, but the freakbeat flavoured B side, written by Jimmy Radcliffe and Buddy Scott and recorded earlier by Billy Lee Riley, and also, under Dallon's influence, by The Sorrows and Jimmy Powell, is. It later became a hit for the Banana Splits!
3. Alvin Robinson - You Brought My Heart Right Down To My Knees/ Whatever You Had You Ain't Got It No More. Mint value £20. How this great double sided piece of New Orleans R and B came to be released on Strike I've no idea. It was released in the US on a label owned by Joe Jones, famous for You Talk Too Much, who was Alvin 'Shine' Robinson's manager. Alvin first recorded for Imperial before signing to Tiger, owned by Lieber and Stoller, and recording a wonderful version of Chris Kenner's Something You Got. Moving to Red Bird, another Lieber and Stoller label, he recorded another classic, Down Home Girl. Alvin died in 1989 aged just 52. Check out these two slow and soulful tracks on Youtube. 
4. Jimmy Powell & the Dimensions - I Can Go Down/ Love Me Right. Mint value £15. Jimmy's sole 45 for Strike is a good one and I'm looking forward (hopefully) to seeing him perform it when he stars in the next Tales From The Woods Heritage Show in January. One of the better British R and B singers, Jimmy was with the Rockin' Berries and performed in Hamburg before going solo and recording Buster Brown's Sugar Babe, produced by Chris Blackwell and released on Decca in 1962. Moving to London he formed the Five Dimensions, which initially included Rod Stewart, and played regularly at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. He recorded Miki Dallon's That's Alright for Pye and appeared on TV shows such as Ready Steady Go. After the break up of the original Five Dimensions he formed a new band the Dimensions, which are featured on this top notch double sider, along with Bob Leaper and fellow Strike recording artists the Jeeps.


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