Sunday, March 30, 2014

More car boot 45s

I found a good batch of 45s at the car boot sale this morning - none of them are especially rare, but some of them are obscure and quite interesting in their way. So here are six of them, with Youtube links where avaiilable.
1. The Jarmels - Little Lonely One/ She Loves To Dance.
The Jarmels were a doowop group from Richmond, Virginia, best known for their 1961 hit A Little Bit Of Soap. Originally called the Cherokees, they were discovered by Ben E King who took them to New York where they became the first black group signed by the Laurie label. Little Lonely One was their first release and deserved to be a hit. It was covered by Barry Martin for RCA and was also one of Tom Jones's early releases, recorded by Joe Meek and released on Columbia. The B side of the Jarmels 45 is also excellent.
2. The Packabeats - Evening In Paris/ The Traitors.
Another record with a Joe Meek link, this time a double sided instrumental by a group who had one release on Parlophone and two on Pye. The A side is Evening In Paris, a Telstar style number,  but I prefer the B side, which was used in the Telstar movie a few years back.
3. Jody Gibson & the Muleskinners - So You Think You've Got Troubles/ If You Don't Know.
Jody Gibson made his first record Good Morning Captain under the name of Joe D Gibson for the American Tetra label. It wasn't very successful, but while serving with the US Air Force he was stationed in the UK where he met Wally Whyton, who introduced him to George Martin. This led to a couple of 45s being released, one of which, If You Don't Know, is featured on one of the That British Sound compilations. I prefer the Marvin Rainwater song So You Think You've Got Troubles, but I can't find that on Youtube, so here is If You Don't Know.
4. The Four Kestrels - Sound Off (Duckworth's Chant)/ Can't Say That I Do.
The first of three demos, this one is a bit of a mystery. They appear not to be the same group as The Kestrels (which included Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway for a time), yet there are four of them and they recorded for Decca, as did the Kestrels for one of their singles. Produced by Johnny Keating, this is a cover of a 1951 US military syle number first recorded by Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra in 1951. Strange record, but not on Youtube, so here is the Monroe version.
5. Three Barry Sisters - Tall Paul. B side - Duane Eddy - The Lonely One.
John Spencely mentioned to me that he's got a demo in his collection which has a Decca record on one side and a London record on the other side. Here's another one (maybe the same one for all I know). The Three Barry Sisters sometimes recorded with John Barry (aka Johnny Prendy) and released four singles on Decca, including this fairly dire cover of a song which was recorded by Annette (Funicello) and came out in the UK on Gala. The Lonely One was Duane Eddy's fourth UK 45 and I also have a one sided London demo of the record, so why also issue a double sider? Who knows.
6. Jack Jones - Love Bug/ And I love Her.
Finally a demo from a middle of the road singer who I have never even considered to be worth listening to in the past, but John S persuaded me that his version of The Race Is On is pretty good. So too is his Love Bug, although the only version I can find on Youtube is by George, rather than Jack, Jones. You'll just have to take my word for it. The B side is the Lennon and McCartney song (which IS on Youtube)..

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vinyl finds - Little Booker and others

As usual I spent Sunday morning searching for vinyl at a car boot sale and it proved to be a successful couple of hours. There were a couple of 45s worth a mention, and a listen, the first of which is this great rocker on the original US Ace label.
1. Little Booker - Open The Door/ Teen Age Rock.
This is, of course, James Booker, but on the A side he shows that he can sing like Little Richard as well as play piano and organ amazingly. The B side is an excellent rocking instrumental.
2. Keith Relf - Mr Zero/ Knowing
Keith Relf was of course the lead singer and harmonica player with the Yardbirds, but when the band broke up he made a couple of solo records including this one, a folky song written by Bob Lind which failed to make the top 30. It's worth around £60 these days.

3. Geoff Bradford - Rockin' The Blues LP
I confess that I was unaware of the key role played by Geoff Bradford in the UK blues boom of the 1960s, largely because he recorded very little. But, as he says, himself, he was very nearly a Rolling Stone.  After playing in a skiffle group, the Sunrisers, in the late 50s, Geoff played at the Roundhouse blues club in Soho which was run by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies. After joining a band called Blues By Six, led by Brian Jones and which included Charlie Watts on drums, Geoff played in Cyril Davies' All Stars and, after Cyril's deatrh, with Long John Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Men before fading from view. This 1979 LP was one of only a handful of records to bear his name and shows what a good guitarist he was. Geoff appeared on the Channel 4 programme Living With the Blues and here he plays Drop Down Mama, one of the tracks on the LP.
The photo above shows some of the other LPs I found, many of which were Louisiana zydeco and blues albums. They included Slim Harpo's Trigger Finger, a highly collectable Blue Horizon LP worth £135 in mint condition. There's also a German issue of the American Folk Blues Festival tour of 1963, with a great photo section, featuring Memphis Slim, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon, Victoria Spivey, Matt 'Guitar' Murphy. Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Spann, Lonnie Johnson, Bill Stepney and Muddy Waters. I well remember seeing this great line-up at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon. There's also a lovely copy of the first Platters LP on Mercury and a Jimmy Witherspoon LP on Crown.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Excitements at the Jazz Cafe

There are only a few original sixties soul stars performing regularly today so the emergence of Sharon Jones and her Daptone co-artists have given old school soul a fantastic boost. But now there's a new kid on the block - The Excitements, a band from Barcelona which features a dynamic singer called Koko-Jean Davis.
I had a look at them on Youtube the other day and then caught the band on the Andrew Marr TV show on Sunday singing Ha Ha Ha, a track from their latest album, Sometimes Too Much Ain't Enough, convincing me to hot foot it to the Jazz Cafe to catch them in action last night. I was not disappointed. The six man band is great, but it's the singer that really creates the excitement.
Koko-Jean Davis was born in Mozambique but grew up in the States, before moving to Spain where she teamed up with the other band members. She's got a soulful voice, great looks, a slim figure and a furious, all action and very sexy stage presence. She really rocked, never stopping moving as the band moved swiftly from one original song to another. Think a young Tina Turner from her Ike and Tina days, or a youthful Sugar Pie DeSanto, or maybe Etta James. That's how good Koko-Jean is.
The band's first album came out in 2011 and their new one was issued last year on the Penniman label but they passed me  by at the time, so I wasn't familiar with the songs, which included frantic soul numbers and relatively tender ballads. Among them were Don't You Dare Tell Me, Tell Me Where I Stand, Ha Ha Ha, I've Bet and I Lost Again, Keep Your Hands Off, Fishing Pole, the ballad Give Me Back, I Do The Jerk, I Believe You and Wait A Minute.
Koko-Jean wore a ridiculously short pink mini dress for the first half which left little to the imagination and strutted around the stage with immense confidence. After a short break during which the band played a couple of Mar-Keys style instrumentals, she returned wearing a tassly mauve number reminiscent of those early videos of Tina Turner in the Ike Turner revue. Her voice was slightly overwhelmed by the band at times but powerful enough and she had enough energy and personality to keep the audience excited throughout, and plenty of on stage action. Definitely a band to watch.
Words and photos by Nick Cobban.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Impressions in Islington

The Impressions are regular visitors to the UK these days, living up to the title of their 1964 album The Never Ending Impressions. They are more than welcome, as the three man line up retains its smooth gospel flavoured harmonic sound and the group's back catalogue of soulful songs and anthems of social consciousness is second to none. Their show at the Islington Assembly Hall last night was a treat from beginning to end.
Two of the current trio - Sam Gooden and Fred Cash - are originals from the Curtis Mayfield era of the 1960s and were soberly dressed in dark three piece suits. By contrast Reggie Torian, a relative newcomer who has only been a member of the group on and off since 1973, wore a spangly silver jacket and tie (see photo below), prompting one member of the audience to ask him who his tailor is.
The trio went effortlessly through their early numbers, beginning with Gypsy Woman from 1961 and followed by It's Alright, Talkin' About My Baby, I'm So Proud, Keep On Pushing, I've Been Trying, Woman's Got Soul, the gospel number People Get Ready and You've Been Cheatin'. All of them were delivered in perfect harmony, their voices soaring to the high notes with ease. Next came Gene Chandler's Nothing Can Stop Me, which led into their civil rights era songs, including We're A Winner, I Loved and Lost, This Is My Country and Choice of Colors.
The Impressions have recently recorded a 7 inch vinyl single for Daptone records, produced by Binky Griptite, a cover of Major Lance's Rhythm, a Curtis Mayfield song which suits the group's style well.    And the show ended with Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey) and, inevitably, the group's most famous civil rights anthem Move On Up. Altogether a delightful show and one which was over far too soon.
Words and photos by Nick Cobban.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Dave Sampson RIP

Very sad to hear of the death of Dave Sampson, one of the stars of the Tales From The Woods 2Is shows in 2008 and 2012. He was 73. Dave's biggest pop success , with his group the Hunters, was Sweet Dreams, released on Columbia in 1960, which peaked at number 29. Despite some decent follow ups, including If You Need Me, Why The Chicken, Easy To Dream and Wide Wide World, this was his only chart success, but he showed at the second 2Is show in 2008 that he retained his smooth vocal style (see photo below).
After his appearance at the 2012 Tales From The Woods show (see second photo) I wrote: 'Dave Sampson was something of a Cliff Richard clone in the early sixties when he released a number of singles on Columbia. Today he retains a smooth Elvis-like voice which was shown off to good effect on a couple of these early singles (It's Lonesome and If You Need Me) and Elvis covers including Mystery Train and Love Me. He also fitted in a jazzy version of Route 66, some rockabilly in the form of Boppin' The Blues, Phil Phillips' Sea Of Love and One After 909, a Lennon and McCartney song covered by Ricky Nelson.' 
I also saw Dave at the Tales From The Woods 'Legends' show at the Inn on the Green in Ladbroke Grove in 2009 when I said on the Vinyl Word: 'Dave is still a very solid rock and roller who laid down a good set made up of rock and roll standards.' A sad loss and our thoughts go out to Dave's family.
Another recent death, at the age of 92, is that of Franny Beecher, lead guitarist with Bill Haley and the Comets from 1954 to 1962, whose jazzy-flavoured guitar work can be heard to good effect on many of Haley's records. After Bill's death Franny rejoined the Comets and toured with them until 2006.
On a happier note, the Vinyl Word is pleased to hear that Tales From The Woods House Band's ace guitarist John Spencely is out of hospital after his recent operation for the removal of a brain tunour and is on his way to recovery. Ger well soon John: we are all looking forward to seeing you back on top form again soon.