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Procol Harum (1967)

“We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor. I was feeling kinda seasick, but the crowd called out for more. The room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away. When we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray. And so it was that later, as the miller told his tale, that her face, at first just ghostly turned a whiter shade of pale.”

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Released in May 1967 on Deram (DM 126), before Sgt Pepper. What a debut single! Such a classic and remains to this day. I don’t know why I bought the single, but I do have fond memories of hearing Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher play this at the Cropredy Festival some years ago.

A. A Whiter Shade of Pale

So who wrote this? Well in about 1730 Johann Sebastian Bach came up with a pleasing air around a descending bass line for his third orchestral suite in D major. Then about 150 years later August Wilhelmj put it down to C major and rearranged it a bit, so that  the violinist could play it all on the G string. Then at some point in early 1967 Gary Brooker channeled all that into the opening for a regal and blues-tinged tune for some truly fabulous lyrics by Keith Reid, and Matthew Fisher got exactly the right settings on his Hammond M102 organ and created an irresistible melodic overlay. So far so good, but it took the House of Lords to get agreement on the legal ramifications of all that. Anyway. That’s Gary Brooker on vocals and piano and Matthew Fisher on organ. The other musicians (Ray Royer on guitar, David Knights on bass, and Bill Eyden on drums) were out of the picture soon after. It was recorded at Olympic Studios in April 1967, produced by Denny Cordell.

Here are two promotional films from the time:

And here is Rein de Jong showcasing the organ part:

B. Lime Street Blues

This one written by Brooker/Reid, no contest. This was recorded at Advision Studios with new drummer Bobby Harrison.

 

 

Gimme Some Lovin’

The Spencer Davis Group (1966)

“Well, my temperature is rising, got my feet on the floor. Crazy people rocking ’cause they want to some more. Let me in baby, I don’t know what you got, but you better take it easy ’cause this place is hot. And I’m so glad you made it, so glad you made it. You got to gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’..”

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Released in October 1966 on Fontana (TF 762). The Beatles had released Revolver, performed their last concerts, and were officially on holiday. The Aberfan disaster dominated the news. This was the group’s eighth single, and just the best organ riff. And by this point Chris Blackwell, who signed them, must surely be thinking he could transform his Island label from a Jamaican indie label into a UK rock label….

My copy clearly cost 50p, but I don’t know when or where I bought it.

A. Gimme Some Lovin’

Written by Spencer Davis, Muff Winwood and Steve Winwood, but only credited to Steve Winwood on the label for some reason (and also annoyingly spelt ‘Gimme Some Loving‘). Produced by Chris Blackwell. Obviously that’s Steve Winwood on vocals and Hammond B3 organ, and also on guitar, with Spencer Davis (guitar), Muff Winwood (bass), Pete York (drums). It was apparently “conceived, arranged, and rehearsed in just half an hour” in a room at the Marquee Club, some time in summer 1966. This is the UK release, which is different from the version on the US release.

Here’s the US version for comparison – different vocal, a bit faster, and a live feeling mix, with some extra overdubs. British version is better, I reckon.

B. Blues in F

Written by Steve Winwood. As the name suggests, this is a blues instrumental. In F. Some wonderful organ and drums on this.

 

Words

The Christians (1989)

“If I could find words to tell you I’m sorry, make you understand, I mean just what I say. After all that I’ve heard, why should I worry? When we ride the fine line between love and hate.”

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Released in December 1989 on Island (IS 450) as the first single from the forthcoming Colour album. The Christians had huge success in 1987/88 with a series of great soul-pop singles so this was much anticipated (by me anyway). Sleeve and video are pleasingly wintery and reflective; shame about the cheap silver printing on the label. I bought this when it came out, to add to my pile of Christians singles.

A. Words

The tune for this is based on an air written by Seán Ó Riada for the song Mná na hÉireann (Women of Ireland). Arranged and with lyrics by The Christians’ main writer and instrumentalists Henry Priestman. Produced by Laurie Latham at La Fontaine Studios (I think in Paris). Garry Christian on lead vocals, Russel Christian on vocals, Steve Ferrone on drums, and Pino Palladino on bass.

Video (long version):

B. Long Gone

Written by Garry Christian. Produced by The Christians. Non-album B-side.

The Laughing Gnome

David Bowie (1967)

“I was walking down the high street, when I heard footsteps behind me. And there was a little old man in scarlet and gray, chuckling away. Well he trotted back to my house and he sat beside the telly with his tiny hands on his tummy, chuckling away, laughing all day.”

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Originally released in April 1967 on Deram (DM 123). My copy is the much less collectible 1973 reissue, which was a bit of a hit post-Ziggy. Opinion is divided on this. I basically find it annoying. But I do like the other side.

A. The Laughing Gnome

Written by David Bowie. Produced by Mike Vernon. Recorded at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, early 1967. The studios were closed in 1980 when Decca was sold. Other musicians are Derek Boyes (organ), Peter Hampshire (guitar), Dek Fearnley (bass) and John Eager (drums). Engineer Gus Dudgeon joins Bowie in performing “gnome vocals”

B. The Gospel According to Tony Day

Written by David Bowie. Produced by Mike Vernon. Same recording session I believe.

I love this way more than the A side.

Stayin’ Alive

The Beegees (1977)

“Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk. Music loud and women warm, I’ve been kicked around since I was born.”

img_20200421_220837Released Christmas 1977, this absolute classic was the third single from the classic from Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, after How Deep is Your Love, and More Than a Woman. As if one monster soundtrack wasn’t enough, next year’s Grease was also on RSO, as were all the Star Wars movies. However, after that it seems that Robert Stigwood’s label didn’t really survive the flop Sgt Pepper movie and a war about money with the Beegees.

My copy is the US issue, on RSO Records (RS 855), marketed via Polydor, and it sounds amazing.

A: Stayin’ Alive

Written by Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb. Produced by Alby Galuten, The Beegees & Karl Richardson. Written and initially recorded at the Château d’Hérouville studio near Paris, this was finished at Criteria Studios in Miami. That irresistible groove and drum pattern is apparently a particularly sweet 2-bar loop taken from Night Fever (because the drummer wasn’t available), plus percussion by Joe Lala. The guitars are by Barry Gibb and Alan Kendall, with Maurice Gibb on bass, keyboards are by Blue Weaver.

The video, featuring Barry really giving it everything, Robin looking self-conscious, and Maurice just looking a bit embarrassed. Filmed in MGM Studios backlot.

B: If I Can’t Have You

Written by Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb. Produced by Alby Galuten, The Beegees & Karl Richardson. This is the Bee Gees’ version of the song sung by Yvonne Elliman on the movie soundtrack. Bit boring.

Kiss of Light

Be-Bop Deluxe (1976)

“The woman of moon flew into my room last night. She tortured my body and made me feel sorry, though I thought I was right. Gave me the kiss of light … Gave me the kiss of light …”

img_20200421_214515This was released in August 1976, in the middle of a famously hot summer in the UK, and the bicentennial celebrations in the United States. It was on Harvest Records (HAR 5110), and my copy has lovely Harvest label sleeve. I bought it because in about 1988 I heard, and loved, a version of Mill Street Junction on the radio. In my memory it was a BBC session, but may have been a live version. (It’s on a tape somewhere.) After that I bought the odd bits of Be Bop Deluxe when I found them, and in any case I would have bought this single just on the basis of the B side, credited to Funky Phaser and His Unearthly Merchandise. Both sides of the single sound great.

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The UK charts in August featured Elton John, Dr Hook, Tavares, Bee Gees, Steve Harley, Status Quo, Wings, Abba. The arrival of punk was only a few months away.

This single was from Be Bop Deluxe’s forthcoming album Modern Times.

A. Kiss of Light

Written by Bill Nelson. Produced by John Leckie & Bill Nelson. Bill Nelson (lead vocals, guitars, percussion), Andrew Clark (keyboards, percussion), Charlie Tumahai (bass, backing vocals, percussion), Simon Ford (drums).

B. Shine

Written by Bill Nelson. Produced by John Leckie & Bill Nelson. Performed by “Funky Phaser and His Unearthly Merchandise”.

 

 

 

The Dreamer

All About Eve (1991)

“She saw that he closed the door, she stole a look in the guarded book. His prose was a line of crows on a washing line in the summer time. And the wind blew the crows around; some made the sky, some hit the ground. She never heard a fuller sound. It comes as no surprise; she’s in love with the dreamer, so in love with his world.”

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This was released in October 1991 on Vertigo (EVEN 16). I probably bought this around the time it was released. At the time I was interested in All About Eve, I think after seeing Juliane Regan sing at the Cropredy Festival. This was the third single from the band’s third album, Touched By Jesus. This was the first album with guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, replacing Tim Bricheno. Andy Cousin on bass, Mark Price on drums and producer Warne Livesey on keyboards.

The label isn’t one of those lovely old Vertigo labels, but a rather smart mid-blue one:

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A. The Dreamer (remix)

Written by All About Eve. Produced by Warne Livesey, who also produced World Shut Your Mouth and Beds are Burning. Remixed by Matthew Vaughan and Simon Vinestock. The song starts on about crows, but the video seems to feature doves, and not much else in the way of special effects. I’m not convinced that the remix is better than the album version and I’m really not convinced by the whiteness everywhere for a band that evokes darker colours. Album version seems more All About Evey and actually less dated to my ears. But that’s the way of singles, designed to hit a wave and surf, while the album stays on land.

B. Frida of Blood and Gold

Written and produced by All About Eve. Recorded and mixed by Andy Cousin. Strange and mysterious and really grows on you after a few listens. Don’t think I ever listened to this before today.

The 1989 Peel Sessions

Happy Mondays (1991)

“When he came out to the lock-up, he said I’m looking for something better. He made his shock announcement and backed off, backed down, backed off. And then he got up off the floor; he said I’m wealthy enough, not to do this no more, and he made it all known with his hands held up, palm out…”

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This was recorded in session for John Peel at the BBC in February 1989. Produced by Dale Griffin. Recorded by Mike Robinson. Here is the running order for the Peel show on 27 February 1989 when these recordings were first broadcast.

Released in about April 1991 on Strange Fruit (677022) as a limited edition (2500 copies), in sickly green vinyl. Bez looking intense on the cover. I don’t know how this found it way into my collection.

All tracks written by Happy Mondays (Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Mark Day, Paul Davis, Gary Whelan, Bez). Tart Tart is from the debut Squirrel and G-Man album, and the other tracks are from 1988’s Bummed.

A. Tart Tart

B1. Mad Cyril

B2. Do it Better

 

Soul Shoes

Graham Parker and the Rumour (1976)

“Well I ain’t got no worry, I ain’t in no hurry. You better tell your mother, that you’re a real soul brother hey hey! I have to say it’s all right, about five past midnight, and we don’t stop a-rollin’ until the floor board cave in.”

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This is a fantastic single, just bursting with energy and a great band. Parker was there before Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, linking pub rock with soul, reggae, R&B, under memorable lyrics.

The single was released on Vertigo (6059 147) in July 1976. It was the second single (following Silly Thing) from Graham Parker’s debut album, Howlin’ Wind. Both sides of the single are from the album, which was produced by Nick Lowe at Eden Studios, in Beaumont Street, Chiswick. The studio was demolished for housing development in about 2007.

The band: Graham Parker (vocals, guitar), Brinsley Schwarz (guitar), Martin Belmont (guitar), Bob Andrews (keyboards), Andrew Bodnar (bass), Steve Goulding (drums). Nick Lowe, Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews had all been in the band Brinsley Schwarz, and Marin Belmont was in Ducks Deluxe. Bodnar and Goulding can also be found playing on Watching the Detectives.

A. Soul Shoes

Written by Graham Parker. Featuring Ed Deane on slide guitar.

And here’s Parker giving it another bash in 2012, in an imagined reunion, which then turned into a real reunion (I think):

B. White Honey

Written by Graham Parker.

Opening track of the album:

And a few months later on BBC Sight And Sound In Concert, introduced by Kid Jensen:

 

 

Our House

Crosby, Stills and Nash (1991)

“I’ll light the fire. You put the flowers in the vase that you bought today. Staring at the fire for hours and hours while I listen to you play your love songs all night long for me, only for me.”

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The Graham Nash classic reissued in 1991 when the song was used in a series of Halifax adverts. Our House was from the CSNY era, but Neil Young isn’t on this song so it’s credited to CSN.

I see that on my copy I have unsuccessfully tried to remove the sticker mentioning the advert! It’s on Atlantic Records A 7552). I expect I bought this in Durham when it came out around 1991/92, probably because it was cheap.

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Here’s one of the adverts:

A. Our House

Written by Graham Nash. Inspired by Joni Mitchell. Produced by CSNY. Graham Nash (lead vocals, piano, harpsichord), Stephen Stills (vocals), David Crosby (vocals), Greg Reeves (bass), Dallas Taylor (drums). Recorded by Bill Halverson at Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles, on 5 November 1969. From the CSNY album Deja Vu.

B. Marrakesh Express

Another song by Graham Nash. Produced by CSN. Graham Nash (lead vocals, guitar), Stephen Stills (guitars, keyboards, bass, percussion, vocals), David Crosby (vocals), Jim Gordon (drums). Recorded by Bill Halverson at Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles, in March 1969. From the CSN album Crosby Stills & Nash.