Posts Tagged ‘British Invasion’

The Rolling Stones: Charlie is My Darling

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

RollingStones_CharlieIsMyDarlingThe Rolling Stones at their 1965 peak

Filmed on a two day Rolling Stones tour of Ireland in September 1965, Peter Whitehead’s fifty-minute documentary garnered only limited showings before being shelved. In 2012, ABKCO returned to the source material to restore and expand the film to sixty-five minutes, releasing it as a single DVD and a five-disc box set that included the DVD, a Blu-ray, an LP and two CDs.  The second of those CDs featured thirteen live tracks from the tour’s concerts, recorded at the peak of the Stones first incarnation. Those tracks are now being released as digital downloads, augmenting the meager selection of commercially released early live performances, such as 1964’s T.A.M.I. Show and 1965’s UK EP Got Live if You Want It.

Included among the tracks are many icons of the Stones early live set, including covers of Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” Bo Diddley’s rave-up “I’m Alright,” Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On,” Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster,” Allen Toussaint’s “Pain in My Heart,” Bobby Troup’s “Route 66,” Jerry Ragovoy’s “Time is on My Side,” and two Jagger/Richards’ originals, “Off the Hook” and “The Last Time.” The latter was the Stones’ first hit single of 1965, but by the time of their Irish tour, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (which is included on the box set’s first CD) had already topped the U.S. chart and was just about to peak in the UK.

The mono recordings are surprisingly listenable, given the state of mobile recording in 1965. These tracks don’t have the presence or instrumental separation of live albums made a decade later, but Jagger’s vocals are seated nicely into the mix, and the guitars, bass and drums are all legible. Better yet, the screaming crowd adds electricity without often overwhelming the music. The only thing that would be better is for the live tracks from the box set’s first CD to have been added here; at only 28 minutes (and as a digital collection with no physical length limitation), there’s plenty of room. Stones fans will want to see the documentary, but will also need the audio tracks for more regular rocking. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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Liverpool Five: The Best Of

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

LiverpoolFive_BestOfMid-60s Northwest R’n’R’n’B from ex-pat British Invasion band

The most honest part of this group’s name is “Five,” as they were indeed a quintet. The “Liverpool” part, however, seems to have been stuck on them by a manager in an effort to ride the Beatles’ coattails. All five members were from England, but apparently none from Liverpool, and their greatest success came after relocating to Spokane, Washington. The band toured the country as an opening act for U.S. hit makers and visiting British musical royalty, appeared on teen television shows, and recorded a pair of albums for RCA. There are remnants of the British Invasion to be heard in their RCA sides, but more on the London R&B side than Liverpool Merseybeat. More deeply the band was informed by the hearty sounds of Northwest rock and touched by the buzz of the American garage. Sundazed’s 18-track collection (originally issued on CD in 2008 and reissued for digital download by RCA/Legacy) cherry-picks from the group’s RCA recordings, sprinkling a couple of band originals among a wealth of well-selected, interestingly arranged and often wonderfully rare covers. Oddly, the group’s one brush with the charts, a cover of Chip Taylor’s “Any Way That You Want Me,” is omitted. Still, Sundazed’s done a wonderful job of resurrecting the core catalog of this undeservedly obscure transatlantic British Invasion transplant. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

The Tremeloes: Here Comes My Baby

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Possibly the happiest a band’s ever been to perform their hit single.

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders: Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob – Plus

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Excellent, but ill-fated second album with super bonus tracks

Given the indelible mark Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders made with Clint Ballard Jr.’s “Game of Love” (#2 in the UK, chart-topping in the U.S.) it’s surprising just how short they ran as a unit. Nine singles, two albums, and by 1965 they’d gone their separate ways. In fact, their run ended as their singles (“It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late” from this second LP and “She Needs Love,” included on this reissue as a bonus) failed to capitalize on their breakthrough and Fontana’s solo career was realized more quickly than had previously been expected. It’s reported that he informed the band of his departure as he walked off stage midway through an October 1965 live show. Fontana and the band continued on separately (the latter scoring quickly with Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager’s “A Groovy Kind of Love”), and this second album, released three months after the split, was left to founder.

Fontana and the band had been pulling in different directions before the split – the former looking to highlight his singing, the latter (lead by guitarist and future 10cc founder, Eric Stewart) their instrumental abilities. The latter’s versatility is highlighted in the range of songs tackled on this second album – a collection that was put together over a longer period of time than the single day afforded their debut. There are only two originals (“Like I Did” and “Long Time Comin’”), both mid-tempo beat numbers written by Fontana under his given name of Glyn Ellis. The rest of the album picks up songs from a talented array of American writers, including Leiber & Stoller, Gene Pitney, Chuck Berry, Van McCoy, Goffin & King, Willie Dixon and Burt Bacharach. The selections are typically UK-centric, including a UK hit (“Memphis, Tennessee”) that was a non-charting U.S. B-side, and Merseybeat favorites from Richard Barrett (“Some Other Guy”) and Bill Haley (“Skinny Minnie”).

The album included the follow-up single to “Game of Love,” sticking with Clint Ballard for “It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late.” Despite its great beat, twangy guitar and catchy lyric, it only edged into the UK Top 20, and fell short of the U.S. Top 40. The group’s last single, included here as a bonus track, was yet another Ballard beat-ballad, “She Needs Love,” which cracked the UK Top 40, but failed to chart in the U.S. The album’s original dozen tracks are augmented on this Bear Family reissue with nine rare single and EP sides. Pre-LP singles include Jimmy Breedlove’s “Stop Look and Listen” (b/w a cover of Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl”), and the group’s UK smash cover of Major Lance’s sweet soul “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um.” The latter is backed by a cover of the rare Doc Pomus and Phil Spector tune, “She Needs Love,” originally recorded by Ben E. King.

The final three tracks collect the rare Walking on Air EP (which also included “She Needs Love”). Here you’ll find covers of obscure soul favorites by Jimmy Williams (“Walking on Air”), Jimmy Hughes (“I’m Qualified”) and Billy Byers (“Remind My Baby of Me”). Together with producer Jack Bavenstock the group simplified the arrangements to fit the group’s rock ‘n’ roll sound, dropping the heavy sax and keyboards of Rick Hall’s original chart for “I’m Qualified” and upping the tempo on “Remind My Baby of Me.” All tracks are mastered in crisp, mono, and Bear Family’s reissue is housed in a digipack with a 22-page booklet stuffed with photos and liner notes in both German and English. This is a terrific artifact of the British Invasion, made all the richer by the nine bonus tracks, and a terrific complement to the group’s first album. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

The Move: Live at the Fillmore 1969

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Stellar live recording of the Move at the Fillmore in 1969

The Move are barely known in the U.S., but their impact on the late-60s British rock scene, and all that tumbled from it, reverberates through to today. By the end of their run, they’d evolved an artier sound that would find full-flower as founders Roy Wood and Bev Bevan, and latter-day member Jeff Lynne, decamped to form the Electric Light Orchestra. But in their prime, they were a rock powerhouse that matched up to the Who’s incendiary music and daring social antics. The group is captured in full-flower of their most famous incarnation on these soundboard tapes, recorded at San Francisco’s Fillmore West in October 1969 on their first and only tour of the U.S. These tapes have floated around bootleg circles, but this is the first complete and official release, endorsed by Sue Wayne, the widow of the band’s vocalist, Carl Wayne.

Wayne had saved the tapes for over thirty years, but it was only in 2003 that digital restoration became sufficiently sophisticated to bring this archive back to life. Sadly, with Wayne’s passing in 2004, the project was once again sidelined. Now fully restored, the song list, plus a ten-minute interview with drummer Bevan, clock in at nearly two hours. The selections include their early single “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” and fan favorites “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” and “Hello Susie.” Also included are covers of Nazz’s “Open My Eyes” and “Under the Ice,” Mann & Weil’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” (which the Move likely picked up from the Shadows), Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind” and Ars Nova’s “Fields of People.” The set is surprisingly light on Roy Wood songs, given his position as the band’s main songwriter, but bits of stage patter help sew everything together.

The band’s combination of pop and rock – memorable melodies and tight harmonies played against heavy drums and bass – is a perfect fit for the stage, and particularly for the late-60s Fillmore. The band stretches out on long jams, but their focus contrasts with the meandering discovery of San Francisco’s original ballroom rock. Even Bev Bevan’s drum solo and the melodic salutes woven into “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” sound more like performance than on-the-spot experiment. The set is filled with energy from start to finish, and though the vocals are occasionally often mixed forward, the tapes are solid and reasonably balanced. It’s a shame the Move didn’t tour the U.S. again, as they surely would have been major stateside stars. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Various Artists: Beat Beat Beat Volume 3 – Mop Top Pop

Monday, September 26th, 2011

British Invasion sounds of ‘64

The third volume of Castle Music’s British Invasion anthology is now available domestically for digital download. Originally released in 2002, the 56-track collection digs into the Pye Records vault for sides released amid the British Invasion in 1964. The name act most familiar to U.S. listeners is the Searchers (represented here by the lovely “Don’t Throw Your Love Away, the love-lorn beat rock “I Pretend I’m With You” and two more), but the real riches are in the lesser known acts. Highlights include Rod and Carolyn’s tight duet “Talk to Me,” the Monotones’ hand-clapping “It’s Great,” Vandyke & The Bambis foot-stomping Alley Oop-styled “Doin’ the Mod,” Tommy Quickly’s wrought “You Might As Well Forget Him,” the Wedgewoods’ Seekers-styled “September in the Rain,” and Shane and the Shane Gang’s terrific train-rhythm blues “Whistle Stop.” There are enthusiastic covers of “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “You Can’t Sit Down,” “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” and the Soul Agents’ should have scored a double A-side with “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and “Mean Woman Blues.” To be fair, there are also dozens of competent singles and B-sides that rightly made little impression on the UK chart and are unknown in the USA. Still, it’s interesting to hear all the things that Pye was throwing at the market to see what would stick. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Herman’s Hermits: Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter / Hold On

Friday, June 24th, 2011

OST two-fer featuring tunes from Sloan, Barri and Gouldman

With oldies radio having reduced Herman’s Hermits catalog to only a couple of their hit singles, many listeners may be unaware of the group’s immense mid-60s popularity. The Hermits were the top-selling British group in 1965, besting even the Beatles, spurred manic responses from female fans, and starred in two feature-length films. ABKCO’s two-fer pulls together the soundtracks from both 1966’s Hold On! And 1968’s Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. To be fair to the Fab Four, neither of the Hermits’ films holds a creative candle to A Hard Day’s Night (or even Help, really), and while the soundtracks haven’t the brilliance of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, they do combine charming hit singles, interesting explorations of folk-rock, good album tracks, and yes, some filler.

Hold On spun off two hit singles, the music-hall styled “Leaning on the Lamp Post” and the folk-rock “A Must to Avoid.” The latter is one of four titles penned by ace Los Angeles writers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. The Hermits’ original version of Sloan & Barri’s “Where Were You When I Needed You” hasn’t the venom of the Grass Roots’ subsequent hit, but Peter Noone’s double tracked vocal is a nice touch, and the band cuts an interesting groove that marries British Invasion beat music and West Coast folk-rock. The title track quickly reveals Sloan’s fascination with Dylan, and the tambourine, hand-claps and waltz-time of “All the Things I Do for You Baby” suggest the Sunset Strip sound of the Leaves and Byrds.

The remainder of Hold On includes the novelty “The George and Dragon” and a generous helping of tunes written by soundtrack specialists Fred Karger, Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne. Wayne and Weisman wrote several of the more passable songs for Elvis Presley’s films, and here they work up the foot-stomping “Got a Feeling,” Zombies-styled “Wild Love,” and, for film co-star Shelley Fabares, the mid-tempo ballad “Make Me Happy.” Mickey Most’s productions, heard here in true stereo, hold up well, sounding punchier and more nuanced than one might have heard through an AM radio in 1966. The entire album clocks in at just over twenty-two minutes, and so it pairs nicely with the Hermits’ second soundtrack.

The Hermits scored their second feature film two years later, but by this time the music scene had moved on from cute mod style to hippie couture, and the band’s commercial fortunes had waned. The soundtrack’s single, “The Most Beautiful Thing in My Life,” managed a measly #131 in the U.S. and didn’t chart at all in the UK. Still, the album contained several interesting songs from ace pop songwriter (and then soon-to-be 10cc founder) Graham Gouldman, including the Hollies-influenced “It’s Nice to be Out in the Morning.” Filling out the track list were the band’s 1965 title hit (reproduced here in mono) and their last top-five, 1967’s “There’s a Kind of Hush.”

ABKCO’s reissue (with fantastic digital transfers by Peter Mew, Teri Landi and Steve Rosenthal) adds a bonus rehearsal session of “Mrs. Brown” in which Peter Noone tries out an a cappella introduction and pins down the tempo. Noone was among the most charming front-men of the British Invasion, and his good nature and hard-work shines through on both the hits and album tracks. Much like the recent Herman’s Hermits documentary, these soundtracks show off an endearing band that cannily picked their material from top-flight writers. The two-fer CD is also available as individual album downloads [1 2], but both soundtracks are recommended, and the two-fer is the way to go. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Towerbrown: Let’s Paint it Brown

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Throwback ’60s R&B, Boogaloo and Freakbeat sounds from France

This recently formed French quartet has got the sounds of 1960s British R&B, Boogaloo and Freakbeat down, from their punch-in-the-gut mono mix to stellar organ and Fender Rhodes and tasty guitar solos. The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, Pretty Things and early Rolling Stones are obvious antecedents, with an emphasis on bluesy go-go beats that surely make Towerbrown a favorite for the dance floor. Three vocal tracks and the hard-swinging organ-and-guitar instrumental “Let’s Paint it Brown” make up the band’s 4-song debut EP. Available as a limited edition 7” single (email the band for info) or digital download, this one’s sure to keep you grooving. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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Various Artists: British Invasion

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Stellar box set of four documentaries and a bonus disc

Reelin’ in the Years’ five-DVD set includes excellent documentaries on Dusty Springfield, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits and the Small Faces, which are also available individually. Each film is packed with full-length performances (some live, some lip-synched for TV) and interview footage with the principles and other key personnel. Though all four documentaries are worth seeing, the chapters on the Small Faces and Herman’s Hermits are particularly fine. In both of these episodes the filmmakers were able to get hold of a deeper vein of period material, and with the Small Faces relatively unknown in the U.S. and the Hermits known only as non-threatening hit makers, the stories behind the music are particularly interesting.

The bonus disc, available only in the box set, adds nine more performances by Dusty Springfield, seven more by Herman’s Hermits, and over ninety minutes of interview footage that was cut from the final films. The music clips include alternate performances of hits that appear in the documentaries, as well as songs (such as a terrific staging of Springfield’s “Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa” and the Hermits’ obscure “Man With the Cigar”) that don’t appear in the finished films. The interview material really show how unguarded and unrehearsed such encounters were in the 1960s. Fans of specific acts are recommended to their individual film, but anyone who loves the British Invasion should see all four plus the bonus disc. For reviews of the individual documentaries, please see here, here, here and here. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

Gerry & The Pacemakers: It’s Gonna Be All Right – 1963-1965

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Winning documentary of early British Invasion hit-makers

It’s Gonna Be All Right: 1963-1965 is one of four documentaries released as part of a five-DVD British Invasion box set by Reelin’ in the Years Productions. Of the four artists profiled (which also include Dusty Springfield, the Small Faces and Herman’s Hermits), Gerry & the Pacemakers might seem the most lightweight. But like all of the artists in this series, what U.S. audiences saw were just the tip of a larger artistic iceberg, and this collection of seventeen vintage musical performances and interviews, television and stage appearances, and contemporary interviews with Gerry Marsden and Bill Harry (founder of the Mersey Beat newspaper) tells more of the band’s story beyond their oft-anthologized hits. The Pacemakers emerge as early exponents of Liverpool’s beat rock, and an act that vied with the Beatles for the seaport town’s music fans.

The parallels between the Pacemakers and the Beatles are many. Both were Liverpool bands with Skiffle roots that turned to covering American R&B. Both honed their live performances in demanding Hamburg gigs, played the Cavern Club, were managed by Brian Epstein, wrote some of their own hits, were produced by George Martin, starred in their own film (Ferry Cross the Mersey), toured America and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. The Pacemakers’ music wasn’t as edgy as the Beatles, and Marsden never really varied from his smiling, sometimes hammy, showmanship as a front-man. The group broke in 1963 with “How Do You Do It?” and “I Like It,” and crossed the Atlantic the following year with “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” Their earlier U.K. singles would find later success in the U.S., though “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “I’m the One” (#1 and a #2, respectively) remained UK-only hits.

The group was on the front-lines of the British Invasion, appearing in the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show, but like many of their peers, they never really evolved. Their success in the UK tailed off in 1965, they charted their last single in the States with 1966’s “Girl on a Swing,” and disbanded a month later. Unlike the Small Faces and Herman’s Hermits volumes, this film provides little documentation of the band’s musicians, and few details of their time in the studio or on the road; this is more a nostalgic pass through their catalog (including a nice anecdote about “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”) than a revelatory document of the band’s history. In addition to the 72-minute documentary, the full individual performances can be viewed via DVD menu options. Bonuses include additional interview footage with and extensive liner notes by Bill Harry. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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