Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grab your mates and head for the beach (The Dressing Gowns) #104

Dressing Gowns Surfing At Piha/ Eatin Bananas In The Bahamas (CBS, BA 461 977, 1981)

Okay, this one is REALLY odd.

I bought this while working at Marbecks because it was a laugh and Roger and I loved it!

He was (still is) a surfer dude, I was (still am) not!

The CBS rep loved this so he pushed it which is how Rog and I heard it. I think we both liked the simplicity and the amateur, almost punkish/low-fi style which was pretty refreshing in 1981.

I have no idea who The Dressing Gowns were (or are now), and this is one time Google has not been able to help. I did find a link to someone selling a copy on Trade me - $2.50 + postage. So not a rare goldmine item either then!

Any edge the song had in 1981 has pretty much gone after over thirty years but it's still a nifty little ditty.

Hidden gem: The B side is a slower attempt at a novelty song and doesn't work.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm gonna pack my bag, head out of town (Dragon) #103

Dragon Education/ Swell Foot Sue (Vertigo, 6036 909, 1975)

Okay - this is an odd one. You know that expression - fall between the cracks? Well this is one's cracks, if you will.

Education does not appear on the album Dragon released on Vertigo in 1975 (Scented Gardens For The Blind) nor is it in that album's progressive style.

Instead it's a guitar led poppy song, with great Todd Hunter bass lines, that points toward the direction this great Nu Zild band would go in once they moved across the ditch to Aussie. Which they did just after this single was released. I lost interest in them around that time btw - mainly because they didn't release anything here for a couple of years and by 1977 my tastes had shifted a little.

It's a transitional single that did pretty good business in 1975 as I recall - I certainly bought the single after hearing it on Radio Hauraki and tried to buy the album but I got distracted by other sounds before I could get around to it.

What's kind of unusual is it doesn't actually sound like Dragon. Marc Hunter developed a really distinctive vocal style in time but this doesn't sound like him. Maybe it's guitarist Robert Taylor, writer of the song, who's singing? I don't know.

Hidden gem: The B side is written by fellow guitarist Ray Goodwin and is a rocky little number that also points towards the good time Dragon sound we came to know and love. Just not quite there yet.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Into this world we're thrown like a dog without a bone (The Doors) #102

The Doors Riders On The Storm/ Changeling (Elektra, EKM 45738, 1971)

Apparently (according to Ray Manzarek) this was the last song recorded by the members of The Doors with Jim Morrison. The single was released in 1971, shortly before Morrison's death, entering the charts on 3 July 1971, the day that Morrison died.

I have a very distinct memory of hearing this song for the first time. I was 14, waiting for my mother in the car outside an antique shop in Auckland when this song came on the radio. It was one of those moments of epiphany that come along from time to time. Something connected me to the song there and then.

In my head I immediately linked it to the Marvel comics character - The Silver Surfer. I don't know why (I was 14! Strange associations pop into my mind still) but I guess it was the rider/storm idea.

I didn't really consider the literal situation of the song - the killer on the road (I misheard this for years - thinking it was 'row' as in death row) and the sweet family who he'd kill - instead I was riding the cosmic storm as the Silver Surfer!

Being the teenage me - I also misheard those sound effects for years as well - I thought they were waves crashing on a beach!

The video below is the edited single version - some three minutes shorter than the album version. Just shows - if it's a great song it can stand up to rough treatment.

Hidden gem: The B side is also on LA Woman and not their strongest track - again - a worthy B side but nothing particularly special.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

To freak out or to be beautiful? (The Doors) #100 and 101 (of about 300 singles)

The Doors Love Her Madly/ (You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further  (Elektra, EKM 45726, 1971)

The Doors Wishful Sinful/ Who Scared You  (Elektra, EK 45656, 1969)

Two contrasting singles from The (mighty) Doors (Of Perception) kick off the next hundred singles in my collection.

Love Her Madly is a terrific pop song. They could write nifty singles when they wanted to. Even though the lyrics are very basic, they are on the top of their game here.

Wishful Sinful is NOT a terrific pop song. I'm not exactly sure what they were attempting with this song. It's not rock and roll, there's no bluesy Doors sound going on here and it's not pop. A bizarre choice for a single. Sure enough it bombed!

Hidden gems: The two B sides are reasonably rare in the Doors discography in that they are two of only three B sides that did NOT appear on their current albums (I'm sure they've appeared on compilations since and what with the interweb/ Spotify/ Amazon/ itube etc they are no longer rare songs - a good AND a bad thing in my humble).

You Need Meat is a cover of a Willie Dixon song and is an okay version - you can't improve on Willie though so...

Who Scared You is a Morrison/Krieger song that didn't make the cut for The Soft Parade. Oh dear - not their best album is it? Who Scared You is actually a pretty choice cut and is much better than a lot of the stuff on the album. Some nice organ from Ray, some tasteful brass parts and a sinewy little riff propel the song forward. Unfortunately it's not a great vocal performance from Jim so that was that - it made a B side.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It belongs to P F Sloan (Rumer) #99

Devo Secret Agent man/ Red Eye (Warner Brothers Records, WBS 49028, 1979)

I can never think of Devo without thinking of Woody Boyd on Cheers in this episode (go to the 40 sec mark). 

They have, of course, become an old group now, but there was a time when they were at the cutting edge of rock music.
Unfortunately, compared to their early stuff, this single sees them more as a mainstream rock outfit. It comes from their Duty Now For The Future album which was received with less than glowing reviews at the time.

The song itself is written in part by P F Sloan (you'll maybe recognise the name from a superb song by Rumer...


Secret Agent Man was written for an early sixties TV show. Many artists have had a go at it: Mel Torme, Johnny Rivers and Devo are obviously among them. Johnny had the big hit with it in 1966 (I include it for comparison and coz it's the best version for my money)

It's both a catchy song and a catchy version.

Hidden gem: The B side is also on the album so no rarity value. It's also a catchy song with a catchy chorus but, like so many songs chosen for B sides - it's true home is on a B side.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sha la, la, la, la, la, la (Derek) #98

Derek Cinnamon/ This Is My Story (Stateside, MSS 2218, 1968)

As far as I can work out, Derek was actually Scottish singer/songwriter/record producer Johnny Cymbal (real name John Blair). Johnny was responsible for a few hits in the bubble-gum pop genre - notably Mr Bass Man.

As was the fashion in bubble-gum circles, Johnny chose to record under different pseudonyms using fictitious 'group' names, or, as was the case here with Cinnamon, using his brother Derek's name.  Weird!

I love a lot of the disposable bubble-gum stuff. Cinnamon has a craziness that is very infectious. Pop should be fun at heart and Johnny knew the formula, with girly chorus oooohhhss, nonsensical sha la la las and, of course, snigger snigger, the double entendre lyrics.

Hidden gem: An emphatic NO!! The B side is utter rubbish (and not in a good way) - a slow croon without any of the infectiousness that oozes from the A side. Really disposable!