Del Shannon’s ‘Lost’ 1967 Album

Billy Nicholls, staff writer for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records, would pen three songs for Del Shannon‘s album, Home & Away, 11 tracks that were recorded in February of 1967 at London’s Olympic Studio but shelved until the release of 1978’s … And the Music Plays On, an LP released only in the UK and Australia.  Here in the US, Liberty ended up releasing from these sessions  (“the best album Marianne Faithfull never made,” according to the aforementioned Rob Chapman) a total of just three tracks across a pair of 45s (“Led Along” b/w “I Can’t Be True” plus “Runaway ’67” b/w “He Cheated“) issued in 1967.

What a loss for radio in pop’s peak year of 1967, as today’s featured song “My Love Has Gone” somehow got overlooked by Immediate and Liberty as an obvious A-side:

“My Love Has Gone”     Del Shannon     1967

Nicholls would join Shannon’s heavyweight backing band for these sessions, along with Steve Marriott, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, Andy White, Twice as Much, and Pat ColeP.P.Arnold, (who was featured last year by Zero to 180 on the cusp of her first ever Australian tour).

Discogs includes a catalog record for a single-sided 7-track acetate on which “My Love Is Gone” serves, fittingly, as the final track:

“One-sided, 7-song Demo Acetate test pressing for Del Shannon’s unreleased 1967 album Home & Away, recorded for Immediate in the UK with a stellar backing line-up (Billy Nicholls, etc.).  This was likely Del Shannon’s personal copy because at the end of Track 3, “Cut And Come Again,” an engineer adds a joking voice-over “Hey, Del – you blew the words!,” which is missing on the later re-released versions of the album.  This appears to be the only actual pressing of the album (actually, half the album) from when it was recorded in 1967.  No label or trail-off markings, but acetate is clearly seven songs from Home & Away when listened to.”

Rumor has it this was the original LP cover

American fans finally got their chance to obtain Home & Away (whether or not they realized it), when all 11 songs ended up sandwiched in the sequencing (tracks 12-22) for 1991 compilation Del Shannon:  The Liberty Years — with all recordings mixed in stereo and “mastered from the original 4- and 8-track master session tapes.”  In 2012, Home & Away finally enjoyed a proper release on compact disc – though only in the UK – supplemented by mono singles mixes of five tracks.

Known to his mum as Charles Weedon Westover (born in Grand Rapids, Michigan), Del Shannon – as Discogs contributor RoryHoy would have you know – is “one of the most seriously underrated talents in Pop Music history.”   And furthermore —

While most 1960’s boffins know his song “Runaway”, there’s a whole 30 years worth of amazing music from this man.  With his incredible voice complete with trademark falsetto and of course his fantastic songwriting, what is there not to like with this guy.  If you like Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Beatles etc — Del is much recommended!

“My Love Has Gone” (composed, not by Nicholls but rather, by Ross Watson, the songwriter’s sole contribution to pop music, possibly) – enjoyed a new lease on life in 2014, thanks to a 7-inch winner of a release by Miriam, i.e., Miriam Linna, founder – along with Billy Miller – of Norton Records, as well as the original drummer for The Cramps.

Miriam Speaks With Zero to 180:
My Love Has Gone45

Miriam Linna was kind enough to chat with Zero to 180, who called to inquire the reason for choosing this particular song from Shannon’s Home and Away as the A-side of her debut 45 (not to mention kick-off track for 2014’s Nobody’s Baby), a recording session that began as a special offer to work with Sam Elwitt, Nutley Brass producer [who can ever forget his fun and imaginative arrangements of “Beat On the Brat” and other Ramones classics?], as well as musician.

Linna, who rates Shannon as the most “charismatic” performer in her estimation, identifies Shannon’s 1967 Home and Away sessions as one of her all-time favorite albums — a “complex” set of songs, in terms of composition, artistry, and production.  Elwitt, who was hoping to evoke the sound of Hollywood’s legendary Gold Star studio (Pet Sounds, et al) with this project, invited Linna to choose the songs.  Miriam’s husband, Billy Miller, was ill at the time she had selected “My Love Has Gone,” though Linna fully believed he would pull through.  However, when Miller unexpectedly passed in 2016, the song suddenly took on an unintended poignancy.

“My Love Has Gone”     Miriam Linna     2014

Linna, in fact, had listened to the Home and Away album two days prior to my phone call from start to finish — a moving experience.  In terms of emotional directness to the listener through “the magic of records,” Shannon possesses a gift that brings to Linna’s mind one other artist — Bobby Jameson (featured by Zero to 180 in 2014).  And the “common thread” linking these two artists, Linna points out, is the A&R visionary Andrew Loog Oldham, whose ability to “match songs with artists” was a big part of his genius.

Rhino Records co-founder and one-time Del Shannon manager, Dan Bourgoise, was immediately smitten by Linna and Elwitt’s rendition and urged her to cover “another Del Shannon song.”  Miriam and Sam would collaborate on another Norton 45 the following year, this time breathing new life in “The Hand Don’t Fit the Glove,” a great UK 45 by Terry Reid (with Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers) from 1967.  Both singles from 2014 and 2015 are still available at Norton’s website, along with lots of other cool vinyl.

Check out: “David Fricke Remembers Norton Records’ Billy Miller:  Tireless Rock and Roll Foot Soldier” – published in the November 18, 2016 edition of Rolling Stone.  Tributes, as well, from New York Times, Billboard, Pitchfork, and Bloodshot Records’ Rob Miller.

Billy Nicholls Debut Album: 
Limited Issue Yields IMPRE$$IVE Auction Prices Decades Later

One year after the Del Shannon sessions, Immediate, sadly, “left in the can” Nicholls’s grand opus, Would You Believe, an album highly prized by collectors though essentially unreleased “save for a few promo copies” (according to The MOJO Collection).  Note the four and five figures paid for a UK 1st edition mint condition — as high as £8,000 (i.e., over $11,000).

In 2017, Discogs contributor Grippo would remark on the artistic merits of Would You Believe – “the third most expensive record that’s ever been sold in the Discogs marketplace” – for a piece entitled Top 30 Most Expensive Records Sold in April Topped by Billy Nicholls (I happened to enjoy the tuba/banjo bit myself).

How tragically odd that not one but two LP-length responses to Pet Sounds from the same label would be kept under wraps for years before eventually finding acclaim.

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.
 .

Rolling Stones Soundalike LPs

In the inevitable Beatles vs. Stones (straw man) debate, I intensely resent having to pick sides, since the very idea of one without the other is laughable at best.  Nevertheless, this lifelong Beatles fan takes a certain fiendish thrill in devoting an entire blog post to those albums in which non-Stones groups play nothing but Rolling Stones tunes.

Kicking off this Stones-ploitation trend, appropriately enough, is their manager and svengali, Andrew Loog Oldham, who would arrange “polite” instrumental versions of early Stones songs for 1965’s The Rolling Stones Songbook under the name Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The Verve, you may recall, sampled the album’s final cut – “The Last Time” – for use in the dramatic opening strains of their huge 1997 hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony” but would not get to enjoy any of the royalties generated (sales, Nike ads, sporting event performances) due to the hardball tactics of the composition’s holder of copyright, ABKCO’s Allen Klein — as this exclusive excerpt from Fred Goodman’s new biography makes clear.

Rolling Stone imposter-Andrew Oldham OrchJoe Pass – as noted early in this blog’s existence – would release his seminal survey of mid-60s Stones, Stones Jazz, the following year in 1966.  But a couple of other notable ‘Stones-centric’ albums would hit the marketplace that same year:  (a) Baroque ‘n’ Stones by The New Renaissance Society and (b) A Tribute to The Rolling Stones by The Pupils.

BAROQUE ‘N’ STONES:  hanna-Barbera Records + THE PUPILS:  Tribute to the Stones

Rolling Stone imposter-a1Rolling Stone imposter-b1

How fascinating to discover that ‘The Pupils’ were, in actual fact, cult “mod” band The Eyes, whose 1966 (UK-only) EP sells for hundreds of pounds/dollars at auction (and would include their cheeky retort to The Who — “My Degeneration“).

“19th Nervous Breakdown”     The Pupils/The Eyes     1966

Four years hence,The Winstons would record their unabashed tribute to the Rolling Stones, notable primarily for its provocative “jail bait” cover, while two years later, The Collection would issue the only album of their career — a musical salute to the Stones, naturally — with a similarly risque front cover image.

     The Winstons     1970                                   The Collection     1972

Rolling Stone imposter-c1Rolling Stone imposter-d1

1972 would also bear witness to one more cash-in effort, Rolling Stones Vol. 2 (unclear whether Vol. 1 was ever issued), by the confusingly-possessive Monkey’s Pop Group, whose only known LP was issued on French label, Les Tréteaux.Rolling Stone imposter-dd11973 would bring five (count ’em) Rolling Stone tribute albums, including —

(1) a pair of delightfully kitschy covers from the “group” Rockery:Rolling Stone imposter-e1Rolling Stone imposter-ee1

(2) the one and only recording from The HotShockers released on German label, Auditon:Rolling Stone imposter-g1(3) the stylish and slyly misleading cover for Rockin’ Stones Party from France’s (not Jamaica’s) Fabulous Five:Rolling Stone imposter-f1(4) Million Copy Hits Made Famous by the Rolling Stones by The Flash (Starring Denny Jones):

magnification not included

Rolling Stone imposter-i1(5) a tribute album by a group of Dutch musicians who departed at recording’s end with such frenzied haste, history never had a chance to record their identity:Rolling Stone imposter-h1By the 1980s, unfortunately, it was clear that Stones-ploitation’s Golden Age had passed.  Flash would issue Keep on Rolling in 1981 – impressively on CBS imprint, Epic – while that same year would see the release of Rolling Hits’ one and only album, Rolling Hits Medley, incredibly on major labels (Mercury, Polydor, Philips) in at least 10 countries, including Peru.

Rolling Stone imposter-k1Rolling Stone imposter-j1

I was perhaps five when I encountered my first soundalike cash-in album in the form of a Beatle knockoff group, The Liverpools (as previously recounted), and then again not long after when I got suckered by one of those TV ads for 18 Golden Hits of 1971, as rendered by The Sound Effects (though it is possible I fell for the previous year’s 18 Golden Hits of 1970, which does not even bear the name of the artist-for-hire).

Golden Hits of 1971UDiscoverMusic, similarly, writes of a curious and confounding time “when cut-price soundalike recordings ruled the British charts” — 45 years ago, to be precise, when there was a brief change in the chart eligibility rules, and before you knew it, Top of the Pops 18 was dislodging The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour from the #1 spot!

Baroque & Stones-x

Vashti Bunyan & the Mid-60s Stones

It’s heartening to see how Vashti Bunyan‘s belated recognition – some thirty years or so after the release of her 1970 debut album, Just Another Diamond Day – has inspired her to record again, resulting in 2005’s well-received, Lookaftering, and this year’s, Heartleap.

The articles I’ve read about Vashti Bunyan’s unexpected artistic resurgence have given me the distinct impression of Just Another Diamond Day being the starting point of her career. I was a little taken aback, therefore, when I saw Vashti’s name on a 1965 Jagger-Richards song in Don’t Stay Up Too Late‘s very thoughtful (and poetic) “100 Great Singles of the 1960s (That Haven’t Been Played to Death on Oldies Radio)”:

“Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind”     Vashti Bunyan      1965

Decca would release this Andrew Loog Oldham-produced 45 in May, 1965 in the UK only.

Vashti Bunyan promo

“Right By My Side”: (Curt) Boettcher & (Bobby) Jameson

I couldn’t help noticing that Bobby Jameson wrote the kick-off song on Michele O’Malley’s Saturn Rings album.  Curt Boettcher, interestingly, would be picked to produce Jameson’s second album (although the first “proper” album under his own name) – Color Him In.  “Right By My Side” is the A-side of the album’s second single issued by Verve (while his first single had been released, curiously enough, as simply by “Jameson” – no first name):

Bobby Jameson — “Right By My Side” — August, 1967

Jameson’s outstanding first album, as it turns out, had been recorded under a pseudonym (Chris Lucey), and its cover, bizarrely, featured a photo of Brian Jones, face down, playing the mouth harp and doing a rudely abstract gesture with his middle finger, I kid you not.

Cubist cover for Jameson’s 1967 album on Verve

Bobby Jameson LP coverFor those not familiar with this stranger-than-fictional tale, Bobby Jameson’s first album – Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest – is a set of songs that Jameson wrote to order based upon a supplied set of song titles!   As Jameson himself reveals on his website, his artistically successful UK tour of 1964-65, where he appeared on Ready Steady Go and recorded with The Rolling Stones, nevertheless did little for his finances.  Thus, broke and hungry, Jameson was vulnerable when he agreed to take on the character of “Chris Lucey” and write new songs to substitute for those whose titles had already been printed on the album jacket for (the real-life) Chris Ducey, who fled to another label, where he was under contract.  The songs, written over two weeks’ time and recorded with Marshall Lieb (Phil Spector’s bandmate in The Teddy Bears) are amazingly – given the circumstances – excellent and worthy of a world audience.

Obliquely Impolite Hand Gestures in the Annals of Pop – ‘Chris Lucey’ & Moby Grape

Chris Lucey LPMoby Grape LP

Artist as Musicologist:  Check out Bobby Jameson’s annotated chronological listing of his own vinyl releases from 1963-1977.

Unlikely +/- One-Off Songwriter Pairings

Thanks to Bill Hanke for one of my all-time favorite bits of Beatle trivia:

Q:   Title of the only Harrison-Lennon composition?
A:    1961’s “Cry for a Shadow”

Cry for a Shadow1964 German Beatles 45

Bobby Jameson’s late 1964 single, “All I Want Is My Baby,” was co-written by Andrew Loog Oldham (manager of The Rolling Stones) and Keith Richards – one of two such songs by this unlikely pairing (the other being “I’d Much Rather Be With the Boys“):

Fuzz guitar (maybe) by Jimmy page + backing vocals (possibly) by mick Jagger

Unwashed masses, I turn to you — any other unlikely/one-off songwriter pairings out there?