Forgotten 1968 UK Rocksteady 45

Thanks again to record collector extraordinaire, Tom Avazian — underwriter of numerous Zero to 180 research initiatives (most recently, Scotland’s The Poets) — who provided a vinyl copy of 1988 UK anthology, 20 One Hit Wonders, an album that includes a strong track from a band of Birmingham musicians, Locomotive, who began their career playing rocksteady in a rather convincing manner, before changing gears altogether on their next single and subsequent album before disbanding soon after.

20 One Hit Wonders LPLocomotive’s second single, “Rudi’s In Love” (which slyly quotes “007 (Shanty Town),” Desmond Dekker’s big hit from the year before) would be their debut for Parlophone in 1968, and enjoy release in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Yugoslavia [pictured below – left to right, top down], as well as the US, New Zealand, and Australia.

Locomotive 45 - DenmarkLocomotive 45 - FranceLocomotive 45 - GermanyLocomotive 45 - ItalyLocomotive 45 - NetherlandsLocomotive 45 - SpainLocomotive 45 - Yugoslavia

Billboard would announce in their November 16, 1968 edition (“Locomotive Disk on Speedy Track“) that “the Parlophone single ‘Rudi’s In Love’ is being released in 14 countries in Europe and in the US on the Bell label.”  According to Brum Beat – whose list of Top 20 Birmingham bands includes The Locomotive – “The catchy ‘Rudi’s In Love‘ proved very popular on the dance floor and reached Number 25 during its eight week stay in the charts.”

Beginning in the late 1980s, “Rudi’s In Love” would be repackaged in various 60s oldies compilations, such as Hits of 1968; The Best Sixties Party; 101 Sixties Hits; 100 Hits Swinging 60s; 100 60s Hits ; North of Watford (24 Rare Pop & Soul Classics 1964-82) — and even a couple West Indian-themed collections, The Best Reggae Album in the World … Ever!  Part 2 and Suited & Booted:  Essential Mod & Ska.

Suited & BootedAnd yet, amazingly, for a song so widely distributed, “Rudi’s In Love” (as of today) is only available on YouTube in the form of a live BBC version that, unfortunately, is not well recorded.  How can this be?  45Cat contributor, jimmytheferret, proclaims “Rudi’s In Love” to be “one of the most iconic records of the late sixties” and consequently has posted audio for the song on YouTube.  And yet, when you click on the video link, YouTube informs us that “this video contains content from WMG [Warner Music Group?], who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”  Ah ha…

However, for a limited time — the next ten days — Zero to 180 will make this track available to whomever has accidentally stumbled upon this blog:

[Pssst:  Click triangle above to play “Rudi’s In Love” by Locomotive]

SixtiesVinylSingles tells us that the “stellar brass section” includes ‘his’ friend Lyn Dobson on sax “together with Dick Heckstall-Smith and Chris Mercer, and with Henry Lowther on trumpet.”  “Rudi’s In Love” is notable for having been produced by Gus “Space Oddity” Dudgeon (who is famous for having worked with Elton John in his early years and XTC in their later years), along with Tony Hall.

BigBearMusic reports that the inaugural release for Big Bear Records (“UK’s longest-established independent record company”) was a “spoof ska 45 rpm single entitled ‘Rudi The Red-Nosed Reindeer‘ by a band whose nom-du-disque The Steam Shovel disguised the fact that they were, in reality, The Locomotive”(!)

Rudi the Red-Nosed Reindeer 45

Would you be surprised to learn that EMI reissued “Rudi’s In Love” in 1980, at the height of the second-wave ska craze, in a two-tone-themed picture sleeve?

UK REISSUE, 1980                                      US SINGLE, 1968

Locomotive 45 - UK - 1980-bLocomotive 45 - US-a

PROMO EP, 1979
[Click on image below for maximum Resolution]

Locomotive UK EP

2005 would find “Rudi’s In Love’ selected, curiously enough, for a Japanese DJ cassette mix tape of various and sundry (44 tracks in all) entitled, Freaks Vol. 1.

Freaks - Vol 1Original vinyl trades at auction for decent prices — in fact, four days ago, someone paid £150 for an “extremely rare mispress” of the original UK 45:  two “B” sides!

Norman Haines, who penned “Rudi’s In Love,” would later prove to be “instrumental in developing how Black Sabbath worked” in their earliest days, notes Big Takeover‘s AJ Morocco, “He orchestrated their first arrangements and likely taught them how to commit their songs to tape in the studio.”

Sheet music below serves as bedroom poster when you click on image

Rudi's In Love - bedroom poster

Smitten by the “Break-In” Record

I must have been about 9 or 10 when I first became aware of the “break-in” record, in which the man-on-the-street dishes up pop hit sound bites in response to each and every one of the news reporter’s questions.  I remember hearing “Watergrate” and “Mr. Jaws” on Cincinnati’s pop juggernaut, WSAI 1360 AM, and then, not too long after, obtaining an LP compilation of the better Buchanan and/or Goodman break-in records, from the first flying saucer 45 in 1956, all the way up to “Superfly Meets Shaft” & “Convention ’72.”

Cover design by JIM O’CONNELL

Watergrate + Superfly Meets Shaft

[Pres. Nixon in the driver’s seat, with Henry Kissinger riding shotgun & Spiro Agnew in the backseat, flanked by Superfly and Shaft]

 

I enjoyed the silliness of it all and was thrilled, as a fan of satire, by the send-up of pop culture, as well as straight society.  My brother Dean’s experiments stitching together break-in records at home inspired me to make my own, and I even roped in my friends to help me in my pointless series of “interviews” set at Fred’s (fictitious) Delicatessen.

Images below:  1962 LP ++ 1974 US 45 ++ 1977 JAPAN 45

Dickie Goodman LPDickie Goodman 45-xDickie Goodman 45-Japan

Zero to 180, thus, would like to celebrate a milestone — 5 years!  over 700 posts! — by force-feeding you an amateur “break-in” home recording (c. 1976) that features extensive sampling from the family record collection, aided in no small part by the 4-LP box set, Superstars of the Seventies.  Best to ignore the reporter’s inane line of questioning:

“Fred’s Delicatessen”     Chris Richardson & Co.     1976

[Pssst:  click triangle above to play “Fred’s Delicatessan” by Chris Richardson & Co.]

Zero to 180 Milestones:  The Preschool Years

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between  Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace.
  • 4th anniversary piece that formalized – as a public service – musical chord changes for an old (and tuneless) “hot potato” playground game called ‘The Wonderball.’

Alex Harvey Loves Monsters, Too

Most music fans in the US (and even quite a few in the UK) are unaware that a major 1970s British rock star put out an album on K-Tel (!) during a period of peak popularity – one entitled Alex Harvey Presents the Loch Ness Monster, no less.  There’s a good reason for this record’s obscurity, as these notes from Discogs make clear:

“Released in a limited edition of supposedly 300 copies.  Comes in a beautiful gatefold-sleeve and a 12×8-inch 16-page booklet.  This is mostly a spoken-word album containing interviews with people claiming to have seen the Loch Ness Monster.  It features additional narrations by Richard O’Brien and Alex Harvey and one short musical track at the end.”

This limited release means that some Alex Harvey fans are willing to shell out £200 (only a couple months ago) or even £300 (back in 2014) for this tribute album to Nessie.  These prices are not an abberation, thus affirming the wisdom behind the decision made in 1977 by an elite group of Alex Harvey fans to purchase this long-deleted, vinyl-only release, which finally enjoyed reissue on compact disc in 2009 (John Clarkson’s review also provides a bit of back story).

I Love Monsters Too” — the album’s final selection, as noted above, is the lone musical track, and a concise one at that:  37 seconds (thus, deserving of inclusion on Zero to 180’s list of short songs in popular music):

“I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977

As YouTube contributor Mags1464 drolly observes, the song is “from an album that Alex made while the rest of the [Sensational Alex Harvey Band] were recording Fourplay.”   Zero to 180 just figured out why the group is relatively unknown here in the States — according to Discogs, only four of SAHB’s nine albums released in the 1970s were distributed in the US.

Front cover

Alex Harvey LP-aaBack cover

Alex Harvey LP-bbElaborate packaging includes an annotated map of Loch Ness

Alex Harvey LP-cc16-page diary

Alex Harvey LP-ddDear Diary:  Saturday 17 July 1976

[Double-click image below to view in high-resolution]

Alex Harvey LP-ee

Seven years prior to Alex Harvey’s run-in with K-Tel, Trojan Records attempted to cash in on Britain’s fascination with its most famous Scottish resident through the release of a horror-themed reggae compilation, Loch Ness Monster that contains, annoyingly, only one musical tribute to Nessie (and at least one dubious song selection — “Suffering Stink,” really?).

Loch Ness Monster LP

1970, coincidentally, would also see the UK release of an album – That’s How You Got Killed Before – by Jamaican ex-pat, Errol Dixon that features “Monster from Loch Ness” (not yet available for preview on YouTube).

One interesting “false hit” came up in my research is a spoken word collection that only enjoyed release in Canada (on Loch Ness Monster Records) by one-time Kiss manager, Bill Aucoin:  13 Classic Kiss Stories.

Bill Aucoin LP

In recent years, John Carter Cash would travel to Scotland to perform his own Nessie tribute live in an attempt to “summon the beast” from the depths of Loch Ness — successfully?  At least one person says yes:

“Loch Ness Monster”     John Carter Cash     2016

This is the only Zero to 180 piece tagged as K-Tel Records that isn’t also tagged as Various Artists Compilations

Duke Ellington Meets Apollo 11

Eternal debt of gratitude to Larry Appelbaum of WPFW’s Sounds of Surprise program for pointing listeners (including myself) to a fascinating moment in our nation’s history about which not enough seems to have been written.

“Moon Maiden”     Duke Ellington Quartet @ ABC in NYC     July 21, 1969

A rather surreal television moment, as the Apollo 11 rocket lifts off in a video montage behind Duke Ellington that then dissolves into a shot of the moon.  “Moon Maiden” would be the regal bandleader’s debut vocal performance, amazingly enough, thus exquisitely underscoring the theme of Appelbaum’s program:  vocal performances from otherwise staunch instrumentalists.

Jazz Lives reports (via his “expert friends“) that Duke Ellington’s televised performance – with Al Chernet on guitar, Paul Kondziela on bass, and Rufus Jones on drums – had been “pre-recorded for the telecast.”

“Moon Maiden” had also been recorded just days earlier, July 14th, specifically, at NYC’s National Studio with only Duke Ellington on vocals and celeste (and finger snaps) — the version you will find as the kick-off track on 1977’s The Intimate Ellington.

Duke Ellington LP - Italy

Jet would include this report (“Ellington Pens Tune For Man’s First Moon Steps“) in their July 31, 1969 edition:

Duke Ellington,  composer-bandleader-pianist par excellence who has taken The A Train through the Air Conditioned Jungle to his Satin Doll, climbed musically aboard Apollo 11 with his specially composed song, Moon Maiden, for the Moon-bound astronauts.  The veteran musician, 70, whose musical composition is an accompaniment to man’s first steps on the moon, permitted himself a public first:  he sang as well as played the Moon Maiden tune.  The 10-minute composition for piano, bass, and drums, commissioned by ABC-TV for the network’s day-long broadcast of man’s first walk on the moon, says:

Moon Maiden.  Way out there in the blue … /
Moon Maiden.  Got to be with you /
I made my approach and then revolved /
But my big problem is still not solved /
Coming in loud and clear /
I’m just a fly-by-night guy, but for you … /
I might be quite the right–so right guy /
Moon Maiden.  Moon Maiden.  Maiden, you’re for me.

Asked why he composed a song about a “maiden” when the astronauts going to the moon are men, the veteran jazzman, surrounded by a set the simulated the lunar landing site, replied:  “For those cats to want to be there, there must be a chick around someplace.”  Onlookers and studio buffs who witnessed the musical taping said Duke didn’t “sound bad” as a singer.  Duke said this first vocal effort is his last.  A studio spokesman declared:  “It seemed appropriate–as man first sets foot upon the moon–that we should celebrate with music.”

Ken Vail’s invaluable reference, Duke’s Diary, points to September 4, 1969 as the day that “Duke Ellington and his Orchestra again record for Reader’s Digest in New York City” with the following musical personnel to record “Moon Maiden” — twice, including a version that features vocals from Duke himself — along with four other songs:

  • Duke Ellington:  Piano
  • Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Willie Cook & Lloyd Michaels:  Trumpets
  • Lawrence Brown, Benny Green & Chuck Connors:  Trombones
  • Russell Procope:  Alto Sax & Clarinet
  • Johnny Hodges & Norris Turney:  Alto Sax
  • Harold Ashby & Paul Gonsalves:  Tenor Saxes
  • Harry Carney:  Baritone Sax
  • Luther Henderson:  Piano
  • Wild Bill Davis:  Organ
  • Paul Kondziela:  Bass
  • Victor Gaskin:  Electric Bass
  • Rufus Jones:  Drums
  • Robert Collier:  Conga

Nine years after the moon landing, Luv You Madly Orchestra (on NYC’s Salsoul label) would bring out the untapped disco potential of Ellington’s original piece.

“Moon Maiden” was a B-SIDE, you know

Moon Maiden - Salsoul

Richard Jurek, in the February 15, 2017 edition of Smithsonian’s Air & Space, writes about this fascinating musical footnote in American aeronautical history, when an emerging TV network – with a reputation for “counterprogramming” against its competitors – commissioned a 10-minute vocal paean to our planet’s lone satellite to be broadcast to the entire nation.  Jurek also notes with amusement that our good friends at Pickwick did their level best to capitalize on the national sentiment in 1969 by churning out a covers album of ten popular “moon” songs.

Billy Vaughn LP on Pickwick

Seasons in Your Mind would go one step further and compile an annotated listing of other “moon-sploitation” albums from the year 1969 (although shamefully neglect to include the Journey to the Moon album released that same year by Cincinnati’s King Records).

Journey to the Moon - King LP

NASA, not to be outdone, has organized its own Lunar List of moon songs alphabetically, with Jimi Hendrix’s “And the Moon Pulls the Tides Gently, Gently Away” positioned first!

Zero to 180 is reminded of a time when television news had a modicum of dignity — although hard to say with a straight face as one spies the prominent product placement for Tang on the newscasters’ rostrum.

Tang:  Proud NASA Sponsor

Tang - Proud NASA SponsorBig tip of the hat to Aeolus 13 Umbra, who posted the above television clip from his own video archives and noted the striking juxtaposition of Duke Ellington with full-sized replicas of the Apollo 11 Command Module and Eagle Lunar Lander in ABC’s television studios.  Thank you also to Brent Hayes Edwards, who gets very specific about Ellington’s “Moon Maiden” (as well as “Spaceman“) in Epistrophies:  Jazz and the Literary Imagination:

“Ellington’s manuscript for ‘Moon Maiden’ is located in the Duke Ellington Collection, Subseries 1A:  Manuscripts, Box 229, Folder 8, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Duke Ellington, “Spaceman,” Duke Ellington Collection, Series 5:  Correspondence, Box 6, notes, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.”

TV Guide invites you to review the programming plans for each of the three major television networks during the week of July 19-25, 1969.

TV Guide - July 19, 1969Did you know? “Moon Maiden” is not Duke Ellington’s first musical brush with space travel — 1957’s double-LP Columbia release, A Drum Is a Woman, would include “Ballet of the Flying Saucers.”

Duke Ellington - flying saucersLink to Zero to 180’s previous piece that features Duke Ellington

“Foreman”: Sanitation Engineer

Scooter “The Music Computer” MagruderWPFW radio host and general manager of Silver Spring’s Roadhouse Oldies – deserves much praise and respect for his leadership role in stoking an appreciation for our popular musical heritage over the years.  My recent album purchases at Roadhouse Oldies affirmed yet again that plenty of interesting songs remain primarily (if not solely) on vinyl, as originally intended.

Of the five albums that I picked up, the grooviest cover, by far, should have won an award for design, particularly the typography –- note the individualistic lettering:

out-of-sight-lp

However, since Out of Sight! was issued by a subsidiary label of crass cash-in label, Pickwick, that somehow invalidates the album from consideration (in which case, I would again direct your attention to the uniquely expressive lettering above).

A couple tracks caught my ear, including one by Tommy Roe in which the musical backing track suddenly “departs” from the vocal fairly soon into the song … and never really returns!   Check out the steep “musical drop-off” that occurs around the 40-second mark — did Tommy Roe really intend for the mix to sound this way?

[Pssst:  Click on triangle above to play “Foreman” (the ‘Pickwick’ mix) by Tommy Roe]

Posted as a special treat for Zero to 180 readers (Hi, Mom) for the rest of the year only

Note that nothing of the sort happens in this “propermix posted on YouTube — the only audio recording of the song publicly available (and one that was only posted last month).

A working-class blues that is not without a certain amount of boastful pride (since, after all, the singer has a good job at the mill making “30 cents* an hour” as the “foreman of the garbage brigade”), important to note that “Foreman,” was originally issued in 1961 by Diplomat – Pickwick peer and purveyor of equally exploitative fare (as previously celebrated here) – on Tommy Roe’s Whirling with Tommy Roe and Al Tornello, and would subsequently be reissued two years later on bedraggled and beloved Crown Records (as paid musical tribute here).  I am assuming that the same recording was used for all 3 LPs.

1961 Diplomat LP                                               1963 crown LP

tommy-roe-lp-aatommy-roe-lp-bb

The other tune that thrust itself upon my musical consciousness is an amusing surf-slash-drag-racing hybrid that is talk/sung in Bob Dylan fashion and backed by a bunch of smart alecks (who sound suspiciously like the backing vocalists on “The Ostrich”).  Halfway through the song, I spy the Pickwick logo on the back cover, and the realization suddenly hits:   Lou Reed!  Sure enough, “Cycle Annie” is from the pen of Lou Reed, as are three other tracks on the album:  “Soul City” by The Hi-Lifes; “Don’t Turn My World Upside Down” by The J Brothers; and “The Wonderful World of Love” by The Liberty Men.

“Cycle Annie”     The Beachnuts     1964

* [Note:  30⊄ an hour in 1961 dollars roughly equates to $2.45 an hour in 2017 dollars.]

Roadhouse Oldies, alas, will be shutting its doors for the last time in December, 2017. Message currently posted on the record shop’s website:

A SAD NOTE:  Sorry to report that, after 43 years in Silver Spring, we will be closing the business at the end of this year.  As you can probably understand, the demand for good old songs is fading.  We wish to thank our many loyal customers, and invite you to please come see us before we close, even if it is just to chat about the good old days.  We were the first true ‘oldies’ store in this area, and we thank you for 43 terrific years!

Zero to 180’s Photographic Tribute to Roadhouse Oldies

Roadhouse Oldies-aRoadhouse Oldies-bRoadhouse Oldies-cRoadhouse Oldies-d

original streamline moderne storefront on nearby Thayer St. (demolished)

Roadhouse Oldies-z

This is the 5th piece tagged as Pickwick Records

Earliest Recording of a Melodica?

One of Zero to 180’s earliest pieces (from 2012) concerned itself with documenting the earliest recording of a melodica (i.e., keyboard version of a harmonica), and 1966 seems to be year to beat in this regard, with the composer, Steve Reich, as well as future pop giants, The Bee Gees, having both committed the melodica to tape that same year.

This summer on a long road trip, I was enjoying a CD compilation of rare 45s and obscure album tracks that had been thoughtfully assembled by musician/scholar, Joe Goldmark, (and partner at San Francisco’s legendary Amoeba Records), when I was startled to hear a 1960s recording of South African township jive that includes a melodica!

“Ice Cream and Suckers (pts. 1 & 2)”     Soweto Stokvel Septette     1966?

Incredibly, when you search the entire Discogs database for recordings by the group, Soweto Stokvel Septette, only one item turns up:  a various artists LP release issued on the Mercury label for US distribution entitled Ice Cream & Suckers:  South African Soul, and which features the title track, parts one and two (stitched together in the mix above).

Ice Cream & Suckers - Various Artists Mercury LP-aZero to 180 is impressed with Mercury’s receptiveness to the exciting new sounds coming out of South Africa at that particular time in the 1960s (20 years or so before Paul Simon’s Graceland album) — only question is exactly when?  Before 1966, possibly?

Here’s a clue:  this 4-star review in Billboard‘s April 19, 1969 edition.  However, this description for an online auction sale pegs the album as being a 1966 LP release!  Curiously (or not), the description for this online auction sale approximates the release date to be “c. 1966,” while Lyon, France’s Sofa Records also understands the album’s year of release as 1966.

Assuming this is true, can we necessarily assume that Soweto Stokvel Septette recorded their two-part title track in 1966?  In other words, was the recording made the previous year or even earlier?  The back cover liner notes (courtesy of ElectricJive), unfortunately, do not shed light in this regard.  Nevertheless, “Ice Cream and Suckers” is now, at the very least, part of a three-way tie for earliest melodica recording.

Double-click on image below to view liner notes at maximum resolution

Ice Cream & Suckers - Various Artists Mercury LP-cc

One other supporting clue:  Soweto Stokvel Septette recorded a 45 of “South African ska” that also happened to be released in 1966, according to this vendor.

Soweto Stokvel Septette 45Zero to 180, you might recall, put Joe Goldmark’s music research to good use when its staff compiled a special list of King-related steel guitar releases from Joe’s landmark work, The International Steel Guitar and Dobro Discography.

International Steel Guitar - Dobro DiscographyZero to 180 history pieces related to the steel guitar

Nancy & Frank Sinatra’s Trippy 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra‘s “Life’s a Trippy Thing” from 1970 is the only song title that registers in 45Cat when you keyword search the database using the word “trippy“:

“Life’s a Trippy Thing”     Nancy & Frank Sinatra     1970

As Spencer Leigh aptly notes in Frank Sinatra:  An Extraordinary Life:

“[At what Frank intended to be his final recording sessions with Don Costa in October, 1970] There were two duets with Nancy Sinatra, ‘Feeling Kinda Sunday’ and ‘Life’s a Trippy Thing’, written by Nino Tempo and Howard Greenfield [with (a) Annette Tucker & Kathy Wakefield and (b) Linda Laurie, respectively].  Austin Powers would have loved them.  ‘I mean what I sing, Life is such a trippy thing.’  Really?  Frank ended the second song with the words, ‘That’s silly.'”

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-aaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-bb

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” – recorded in October, 1970 with Don Costa in the producer’s chair –  did not chart when originally released in April, 1971.  45Cat and Discogs both peg “Life’s a Trippy Thing” as the A track (see note on this DJ promo) paired with “I’m Not Afraid.”  Both songs would be released for a French 45, whereas “Life’s a Trippy Thing” would find itself paired with 1967’s “Somethin’ Stupid” for the German market.

           French 45 [note charming typo!]                                    German 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-dddNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-ccc3

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” would also find release in Italy on a 1972 long-playing collection called The Voice, Vol. 3.

Frank Sinatra LP-ItalyThose hoping to acquire “Life’s a Trippy Thing” today can pursue the original 45s on the resale market, or obtain the track via these other more contemporary ‘music products’ worldwide:

(1) part of a 12-track “Collector’s Edition” Frank Sinatra LP for the Brazilian market;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-z(2) a track on 1994’s Belgium-only CD release Nancy & Friends:  Nancy, Frank & Lee;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zz(3) a bonus track on the 1996 CD reissue of 1966’s Nancy in London album.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzz(4) one of two ‘B-side’ tracks included on the 2001 European CD single release of “Something Stupid.”

Nancy Sinatra CD single(5) one track (among many) on the Frank Sinatra Complete Reprise Studio Recordings 20-CD box set.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzbbbx

Howard Greenfield, co-writer of “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is one of the great Brill Building songwriters, whose four co-written #1 hits include “Love Will Keep Us Together.”  Greenfield was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.  Linda Laurie, Greenfield’s songwriting partner for “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is probably best known for penning the 1959 novelty hit “Ambrose (Part 5)” while a senior at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School, according to Billboard.

This past April, Billboard would note that, with 1967’s  ‘Somethin’ Stupid,‘ Frank and Nancy Sinatra became the only father-daughter duo to top the Hot 100 — Nancy would tell NPR’s Fresh Air in 1996 that “DJs dubbed it ‘the incest song…’  It gave them something fun to kid about.”

This is the third such piece tagged as Gratitude in Popular Music.

The Poets: Not Actual 12-Strings

The ringing, echo-drenched electric 12-string guitars on the debut single by Scottish rockers, The Poets, are such a striking sound for 1964 and yet a strangely familiar one:  might it be possible that the band later reincarnated as Brian Jonestown Massacre?

“Now We’re Thru'”     The Poets     1964
[play at strong volume]

What a revelation when one finds out – thanks to Richie Unterberger’s interview with lead singer and songwriter, George Gallacher – “apparently, there were no 12-string guitars, but what there was, was the two guitars having the 1st and 2nd strings tuned the same, thereby creating a semi-12 string effect.”  That very same year interestingly enough, Lou Reed would take this concept to the ultimate extreme when he tuned all six strings to the same note for his satiric (non) dance hit “The Ostrich.”

Now We're Thru - The Poets 45

With the utmost of commitment from each and every band member, “Now We’re Thru’” is a classic A-side from top to bottom, with the chiming guitars – and particularly the lonely vocal at song’s end – ratcheting up the mystery and angst. The song would find release in Japan (manufactured by the “otherKing Records), as well as the US, Australia, and the UK, where the song charted at #31, doing particularly well in Scotland, confirms Unterberger in his (revised) history of ‘overlooked innovators and eccentric visionaries’ — Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers.

Billboard‘s December 12, 1964 edition gives the back story on the single’s release here in the States:

“Bob Crewe, independent record producer, has formed his own label, Dynovox, which will be distributed by Amy-Mala Records.

The label’s first release is ‘Now We’re Thru” by the Poets.  Crewe is currently producing sides for the 4 Seasons, and current releases ‘Watch Out Sally‘ by Diane Renay on MGM; ‘Dusty‘ by the Rag Dolls on Amy-Mala; newcomer Michael Allen on MGM Records with ‘She,’ and the forthcoming Travey Dey release on Amy-Mala.

The New Crewe label will not confine its efforts to pop releases.  The New York Youth Symphony and show and movie scores are being recorded for future releases.”

Unterberger attributes much of the “brilliance” of The Poets’ singles to their manager/producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, and proclaims the band to be “certainly the most talented act in Oldham’s production/management stable other than the Stones.”  According to a November, 1964 edition of New Music Express, the band’s name is “presumably derived from the fact that they wear their hair Burns-style and have ruffled lace-fronted shirts.”

After recording two singles for Oldham’s Immediate label, The Poets would carry on for one more single after Gallacher’s departure – 1967’s “Wooden Spoon” – before disbanding.  Wait a minute, 1967 is the birth year for Anton Newcombe:  coincidence or musical reincarnation?

The Poets would reunite in 2011 for a live performance at Glasgow’s Eyes Wide Open club.  Tip of the hat (yet again) to Tom Avazian for hipping me to this track via UK anthology album from 1983:  20 One-Hit Wonders, Volume 2.

1968 Crown Durango Electric 12-String [courtesy of Drowning in Guitars]

Electric 12-String = 1968 Crown Durango

{double click on image above for 3-D centerfold effect}

 

Historical Sidebar:  First Electric 12-String Guitar on UK Recording

Tony Bacon’s Rickenbacker Electric 12 String, The Story of The Guitars, The Music, and The Great Players informs who the electric 12-string pioneers in the UK were:

In fact, [George] Harrison’s Rickenbacker wasn’t the first electric 12-string on a British recording session.  That honour belongs to a Burns guitar played by Hank Marvin of The Shadows.  Marvin, a Fender Stratocaster player, had teamed up with British guitar-maker, Jim Burns, to design a new solid-body six-string electric.  Burns also came up with an electric 12-string, and around October, 1963, Marvin received an early sample of the Burns Double Six.  He took it along to various sessions at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London where he was recording with Cliff Richard & The Shadows.

Marvin intended to record “Don’t Talk to Him” using the Burns 12, but problems arose, so instead he doubled a six-string line to achieve the prominent hookline.  A few weeks later, however, he recorded another Cliff session and played the prototype Burns 12-string for “On The Beach.”  Unusually, the 12 was strung like a six-string bass plus octave strings, clearly heard on the song’s low-down double string runs.  Later in November, Marvin used the Burns 12 with regular stringing for “I’m the Lonely One.”  These Cliff Richard songs weren’t released until 1964 — in the UK singles chart, “I’m the Lonely One” went to Number 8 in February and “On the Beach” to 7 in July — but they are important as early British recordings of the electric 12-string sound.

The book goes on to say:

The very first release of a British record with electric 12-string — just ahead of The Beatles and well ahead of Cliff & The Shads — was the result of another Abbey Road session.  Paul McCartney gave one of his songs to Peter & Gordon, a new duo signed to EMI.  They recorded their single “A World Without Love” at Abbey Road in January 1964, with sessionman Vic Flick [of James Bond theme fame] on guitar.
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Rare 1965 Jimmy Page B-Side

No doubt about it:  Jimmy Page, given his role as composer, arranger, and producer, dominates this B-side by a group you’ve never heard of (i.e., recording career = exactly one 45).  This song, I am now discovering, is virtually unknown to American fans of Page’s work, as it has mainly enjoyed release in the UK and Europe — first as a B-side, and later on compilation albums that showcase the daring and original music produced by UK’s renegade indie label, Immediate.  Even now, when you search YouTube, the song barely registers:  just one lonely audio clip, with a mere 1,707 listens to date.

Will you please tell us the song title already?!  “Just Like Anyone Would Do” — the B-side to “Bells of Rhymney” on the one and only single ever released by Fifth Avenue:

Fifth Avenue     “Just Like Anyone Would Do”     1965

From the flamenco-style guitar riff that propels the song, to the instrumental bridge with the majestic piano chording, to the ghostly backing vocals that linger after the rest of the mix has faded, there’s something fairly compelling about this song (ditto for another great Jimmy Page production from that same year that unfairly sank without a trace — Nico’s “I’m Not Sayin’“).

I first encountered this haunting track on a double-album anthology of Immediate singles (with album sides devoted to “The Most Obvious”; “The Rarest of the Rare”; “Happy to Be a Part of the Industry of British Blues”; and “Jimmy Page Productions/Sessions”) that was released, oddly enough, by Nashville-based Compleat Records in 1985.

Immediate Singles 2-LP AnthologySix years prior, the Led Zeppelin fan club Manchester/UK had gathered this B-side and 29 other tracks for a double album compilation entitled, James Patrick Page — Session Man.  In recent years, “Just Like Anyone Would Do” would be reissued on CD in 2000, both in the UK (here and also here) and Germany.  2007 would also find the song included on a European CD release, Your Time Is Gonna Come — The Roots of Led Zeppelin (1964-1968).

Led Zep Roots Anthology

The track listing in 2000’s 6-CD box set, The Immediate Singles Collection, provides this sparse bit of text about Fifth Avenue’s sole contribution to popular music history:

45 originally released as Immediate IM 002 — 1965.
Line-up:  Denver Gerrard (vcls, gtr), Kenny Rowe (vcls, bs).
Band origin:  London.

The original Immediate 45 (which was the second single issued by the label, following “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys) does respectable business, according to Popsike, at auction.

“Frankenstein’s Party” Turns 60

Five years before “The Monster Mash,” King Records would peddle their own piece of Halloween pop in 1957, with the only release ever by The Swinging Phillies on DeLuxe — “Frankenstein’s Party” (backed with “LOVE“):

“Frankenstein’s Party”     The Swinging Phillies     1957

Thanks to the unnamed Discogs contributor who posted this biographical sketch:

The Swinging Phillies are a Philadelphia-based group, and are composed of Charles Cosom, lead; Philip Hurtt, first tenor; Richard Hill, second tenor; Ronald Headon, baritone; and Al Hurtt, bass singer and founder of the group.

More band history below courtesy of the “bio-disc“:

Frankenstein's Party - The Swinging PhilliesHard to believe that people have paid hundreds of dollars for an original copy of this doowop 45, but they have.

A search of the 45Cat database seems to suggest strongly that DeLuxe 6171 is the first of the “Frankenstein” songs, two years before Buchanan & Goodman’s “Frankenstein of ’59” (and one year before Bo Diddley’s “Bo Meets the Monster” – although this source says 1956), but is it also pop music’s earliest Halloween-slash-horror song?  All attempts to find “scary” songs earlier than 1957 – using such search terms as monster, ghoul, vampire, mummy, spooky, haunted, Halloween, et al. – have not yet proven abundant.  According to AllButForgottenOldies, the “flying saucer” songs of 1956 would kick start the teen horror fad in popular music, which merely echoed the big screen — although I’m not sure I would include “Old Black Magic” (especially as rendered so touchingly by the Glenn Miller Orchestra; same goes for Margaret Whiting’s “Old Devil Moon” — ditto Perry Como’s “Haunted Heart“) on a Halloween song list.

“Frankenstein’s Party” just might be King’s only Halloween and/or horror tune.

Q:  Aside from the “flying saucer” discs of 1956, can you find a Halloween/horror tune earlier than 1957?