Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Decca Obscurities

Time for some more Vinyl Obscurities, this time all British material on the Decca label featuring some artists who never made it to the big time and early 45s by a couple who did. Comments and additional info are very welcome.
1. The Jetstreams - Bongo Rock/ Tiger. Mint value £20. I picked this one up in an antique shop in Rye during the Rhythm Riot. Like so many early Decca 45s both sides are covers of US hits - the official A side a copy of the Preston Epps instrumental and the more interesting B side a cover of the Fabian hit, with a gruff and quite convincing vocal. This was the band's only release and I know nothing about them. Can anyone help? It should have been a tri centre, I think, but isn't: not sure why.
2. Rolly (Yo-Yo) Daniels - Yo-Yo Boy/ The Teacher. Mint value £5. This was a 1962 reissue of a record that came out originally on the obscure Stardisc label by a man about whom I have managed to find out precisely nothing. There's an Irish country singer called Roly Daniels (with one L) but I don't think this is him. The A side was written by Sid Tepper and Roy C Bennett who wrote songs for Elvis and Cliff among others, while the B side has a distinctly US feel to it. I couldn't find either tracks on Youtube so I've uploaded them myself.
3. Garry Mills - I'll Step Down/ Your Way Is My Way. Mint value £10. Garry was one of the stars of a recent Tales From The Woods 2Is tribute show and this was his first release on Decca, after a successful run on Top Rank. It's another song by Tepper and Bennett and was also recorded by Lee Diamond and the Cherokees. Not sure if there was another earlier version but maybe someone can leave a comment if there is.
4. Jimmy Powell - Remember Then/ Everyone But You. Mint Value £8. Birmingham-born Jimmy will be appearing at the next Tales From The Woods show in January. He made some decent records both solo and later with his band the 5 Dimensions, one of whose members at one time was Rod Stewart. The official A side of this, his third 45, was a fairly average cover of the Earls hit but the B side, featured in the film Just For Fun, is better.
5. The Zephyrs - What's All That About/ Oriental Dream. Mint value £40. The Zephyrs' only Decca single is an instrumental written by Tony Hatch. They went on to Columbia where they had five 45s released which were produced by Shel Talmy, but without much success. Their next record, a cover of Bo Diddley's I Can Tell, was allegedly hated by Mick Jagger, which didn't improve their chances.
6. The Marauders - That's What I Want/ Hey Wha' D'ya Say. Mint value £15. The Marauders were from Stoke on Trent but their sound is Mersey beat, as this double sider - their first of four 45s - demonstrates.
7. Beryl Marsden - I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)/ I Only Care About You. Mint value £15. Liverpudlian Beryl was another artist who appeared at a Tales From The Woods show. This cover of Barbara George's New Orleans R and B hit was her first 45 and although she made several strong pop records in the early sixties and toured with the Beatles in 1964 she never had a major hit. Later she joined Shotgun Express, whose members included Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green.
8. The Orchids - Love Hit Me/ Don't Make Me Mad. Mint value £20. This Shel Talmy production was one of the best British girl group records of the era - the second of three 45s by this Coventry threesome who were only 14 when they made their first record. Well worth a listen.
9. Jimmy Lennon & the Atlantics - Louisiana Mama/ I learned To Yodel. Mint value £35. I don't know much about Jimmy Lennon but this Joe Meek production of a Gene Pitney song which, for some reason, was not released by him as a single in the UK is not bad.  The B side is fairly dire.

10. The Snobs - Buckle Shoe Stomp/ Stand And Deliver. Mint value £15. This Croydon-based band made only one record, recorded live at Medmenham Abbey, near Henley, home of the notorious 18th century Hellfire Club. They dressed in frockcoats and powdered wigs and one of their member is now a Woodie (no names!). They were particularly popular in Scandinavia for some reason.
11, The Redcaps - Mighty Fine Girl/ Funny Things. Mint value £20. For a while Birmingham threatened to rival Liverpool in terms of beat groups and the Redcaps were one of the leading groups in the city. This was their third single (after covers of Shout and Talkin' Bout You) and this time it was a Chris Andrews song, which is very much typical of the beat group era. It was their last 45.
12. The Fairies - Anytime At All/ Don't Think Twice It's All Right. Mint value £125. Great debut record by a legendary group from Colchester which included Twink, later with Tomorrow, the Pretty Things and the Pink Fairies. B side is a decent cover of the Bob Dylan song.
13. Them - Don't Start Crying Now/ One Two Brown Eyes. Mint value £70. Another debut 45 by the group that launched the career of Van Morrison.  The B side is a Morrison composition.
14. The Art Woods - Oh My Love/ Big City. Mint value £60. Second single by another legendary group featuring singer Art Wood, older brother of Ronnie Wood. Other members included Keef Hartley and Jon Lord, one of the founders of Deep Purple. Despite some good records and appearances on Ready Steady Go the group didn't quite make a breakthrough and broke up in 1967.
15. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers - Crocodile Walk/ Blues City Shakedown. Mint value £45. Only the second 45 by the group that was the breeding ground for the likes of Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, but this record wasn't a success despite the band's growing reputation as a live act.
16. The Frays - Walk On/ Keep Me Covered. Mint value £150. Highly collectable 45 by a band featuring Johnny Patto. The official A side is a cover of the Brownie McGhee blues number but it's the B side, a classic slice of freakbeat, which really stands out. The band recorded an LP at the Marquee Club but it wasn't released and they broke up after just this one 45. a 
17. The Cryin' Shames - Please Stay/ What's New Pussycat. Mint value £20. This was a cover of the Drifters hit but a good one, and was Joe Meek's last hit before he committed suicide. From Liverpool, the group were approached by Brian Epstein who wanted to manage them but they refused. After one more 45 they broke up, but the remnants recorded later for Meek as Paul & Ritchie and the Cryin' Shames.
18. The Undergrads - Looks Like It's Gonna Be My Year/ Calling You. Unlisted. Bit of a mystery group this, although I've read that they were from Liverpool. Typical Mersey beat sound - a couple of years too late perhaps - and I've uploaded both sides to Youtube, so judge for yourself. Anyone know anything about them?


At 8:53 pm , Anonymous Alan said...

There was a version of "I'll Step Down" by US country singer Bonnie Guitar, B-side of her single "Tell Her Bye" (RCA Victor 47-7951) but it doesn't seem to pre-date the British recordings by Lee Diamond or Garry Mills.

Bonnie Guitar is best known for her 1957 hit "Dark Moon" composed by Ned Miller). Roy Orbison nicked the melody and some of the lyrics for his song "Love Star".

"I'll Step Down" was also a top 5 hit in Australia for Judy Stone.

At 9:20 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks Alan. I didn't know about the Bonnie Guitar version. I have a gut feeling that there must have been a US version before Garry's but no idea who! Garry may know I suppose!

At 6:28 am , Anonymous Malc Minney said...

Interesting blog Nick .Some of the 119000 records are rare and obscure,but most of the others are frequently on ebay and sell for lower prices than the collectors guides price them at.

At 9:33 am , Blogger Nick said...

I agree. I sell on Ebay a lot and it's not often that you get the price given by the Rare Record Guide, except for really rare records. It's a guide, but no more than that.


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