Monday, December 29, 2014

The superman comes to meet you (Slade) #343

Slade Take Me Bak' Ome (sic)/ Wonderin' Y (Polydor, 2058 231, 1972)

The title should have been 'Take Me Bak 'Ome' but NZ pressing people have never understood the apostrophe rule (or cared about getting titles right).

One of my first purchases this one. I loved, still love Slade.

The glam era conjured up some freakish acts and even though Slade got lumped in there - largely because of Noddy Holder and Dave Hill's outlandish costumes - this boy band could play and they always looked like hard men from Wolverhampton no matter how weird the jumpsuits became!

My first taste was Slade Alive! - one of the greatest live albums of all time, and this single.

Take Me.. has some wonderful layered guitars, a catchy hook that never gives up and that stomp along sound from Don Powell.

Hidden gem: Slade had some great songs (thanks to Jim Lea and Noddy Holder) and they had the raw vocal power of Noddy Holder! Wow that guy could deliver a song. They also knew why the Beatles were so great. Wonderin' Y sounds like an exercise in delivering Beatle harmonies in a power pop vein. Noddy delivers! Awesome!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

You don't get the breaks like some of us do (George Harrison) #342

Roger Skinner and The Motivation Sour Milk Sea/ Sweet Lorraine (Pye, 7N 14011, 1969)

No doubt the music world contains more terminally unhip band names than this but I can't think of anything right now. Prince and The Revolution this ain't!

The very literal Roger Skinner's Motivation (to get out of bed of a morning) grew from a number of second division NZ sixties bands and released a few singles before calling it a day in 1974. Unfortunately Roger Skinner didn't get the breaks like many did in NZ music - maybe it was that band name! 

RS on far right
The A side is a version of the George Harrison song that Jackie Lomax covered on his solo Apple Records album (for other Lomax/Harrison single connections see

Sour Milk Sea is a weird song and an even weirder choice to cover I would have thought. 

Even though Roger doesn't have the pipes of Jackie Lomax and the Lomax arrangement is kept intact, this still becomes a damn fine piece of kiwi music in his hands. 

Hidden gem: Yes indeed - Sweet Lorraine is a heavy, bass laden, piece of 1969 rock. The barking mad sound affects of gunfire at the end just add to the appeal. If anything I prefer it to the A side as a slice of Kiwi Nuggets style lost rock classics.

Extra notes: This single is worth around $20 to $25 dollars according to the sites I stumbled upon; sadly there is no video available on this one.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Oh Krishna, where are you? (Ravi Shankar) #341

Shankar Family and Friends I Am Missing You/ Lust (Dark Horse, K 5729, 1974)

Doh - I, um, missed this one - it got into the Patti Smith singles by mistake somehow!

This track is off the Dark Horse Records album Shankar Family and Friends which includes Ravi's usual side men and women with western musos that includes your friend and mine - Ringo Starr! The vocal is by Ravi's sister-in-law Lakshmi Shankar. 

It's also unusual in that Ravi wrote it in a western style (it's a love song to Krishna). 

It's quite catchy but a single? Yeah why not! If nothing else it alerted people to the parent album which I quite like - but again, being a Beatle completist, I bought this for the Harrison/Starr connection, rather than out of any sense of devotion to Ravi Shankar.

Hidden gem: Lust is part of a longer suite, also on the parent album. It's pretty good too - in a Ravi meets Frank Zappa jazz fusion sort of way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tell me, is it true? (Billy Shears) #340

Billy Shears and The All Americans Brother Paul/ Message To Seymour (Festival, FK 3415, 1969)

Into the weirdness we go, as the mythical Billy Shears cashes in on the Paul Is Dead urban myth that would have you believe Paul McCartney's death in 1966 was covered up by the Fabs and a lookalike brought in with the amazing ability to write genius songs like the 'real' Paul. Sigh.

Conspiracy theorists loved it and it was a mildly amusing distraction at the time as 'clues' were found in songs and record covers. Okay, I confess to playing stuff backwards to find 'I buried Paul' on The Beatles. But it was only a fun distraction.

Brother Paul, the song, is crap by the way.

Hidden gem: Message to Seymour is a faster paced, more psychedelic song but still crap.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Do you not care for us? (Ravi Shankar) #339

Ravi Shankar Joi Bangla, Oh Bhaugowan/ Raga Mishra-Jhinjhoti (Apple Records, 1838, 1971)

This is a rare one - Ravi's first record released on Apple, produced by Hari Georgeson - only Oh Bhaugowan was subsequently compiled onto an album.

The E.P. came out before George curated The Concert For Bangladesh (Joi Bangla translates to 'victory for Bangladesh') and started a run of George collaborations on Apple Records releases that stretches to 1997.

The song itself? Joi Bangla's a happy, jaunty little number but I have to face up to an awful truth here: if this had no Beatle/Apple connection would I buy it? The answer is a solid 'No'. 

Would I even listen to it? Unlike the Radha Krisha Temple Apple stuff, the answer is another solid 'No'.

Sorry but there it is. I struggle through that first side of The Concert For Bangladesh through respect for Ravi and George, but it's still a struggle.

Oh Bhaugowan is a quieter, more contemplative and more appealing listening experience thanks to the flutes and soft chants.

Hidden gem: Raga is an instrumental and develops nicely with Ravi's sitar more to the foreground.

[No video available on these songs].

Monday, December 8, 2014

They made you a moron (Sex Pistols) #337 - 338

Sex Pistols God Save The Queen/ Did You No Wrong (Virgin, VS 181, 1977)

Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant/ No Fun (Virgin, VS 184, 1977)

Hard now, in 2014, to believe how powerful God Save The Queen was as a defiant blast of outrageous intent in 1977.

Before they turned themselves into a buffoonish cartoon and before Sid Vicious became a drug-fueled homicidal maniac, for a brief time in 1977, The Sex Pistols were the real deal.

1977: my first year at University. I knew about punk rock, I was a diligent reader/collector of Sounds magazine, but life in NZ was a million miles from the depressed feelings experienced by many youngsters in Britain in the late seventies.

Somehow, via these two singles, The Sex Pistols managed to transcend the tyranny of distance and sound absolutely relevant in 1977 New Zealand.

And they rocked!! Those overdubbed guitars work brilliantly and the sound is totally in your face. 

What a marvelous racket.

Hidden gems: Definitely! Did You No Wrong is a terrific song - those guitars again and Paul Cook's drumming propel this song ever onwards.

I'm not so much a fan of No Fun but one snarl from John Lydon on any of these songs equals a breath of fresh putrid air.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mr Freers, had sticky out ears (The Scaffold) #336

The Scaffold Lily The Pink/ Buttons Of Your Mind (Parlophone, NZP 3303, 1968)

Poor old Mike McCartney? No way!!

Many people would struggle being Paul McCartney's kid brother but not our Mike.

A talented and bright guy - Mike adopted McGear as his pseudonym early on to avoid cashing in on Beatle fame by association. He became a band member (with The Scaffold), solo artist (McGear is a terrific album) and famed photographer - all on his lonesome (okay - with a bit of help from Roger McGough/John Gorman in The Scaffold and his big brother thereafter).

Having said all that, I urge the blogosphere not to judge him based on Lily The Pink - a nonsense song. Although it was wildly successful in 1968- it doesn't stand up to rigorous reappraisal in 2014.

Hidden gem: Sadly - no. The B side is a McGear/McGough creation and the boys play it straight(ish). Significantly, it pales considerably next to, say, Flight Of The Conchords in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lissa I am, doing what I can (Russia) #335

Russia Lissa/ Boucher (EMI, HR 591, 1979)

My memories of this one are a little dim - I'm sure I bought this on my good buddy's (GK) recommendation. I think he heard it on Radio Hauraki and we each bought a copy on our regular record buying trips to K Rd and Queen St.

We'd started these while at school - beginning first at George Courts on K Rd, going through St Kevin's Arcade (an early version of Real Groovy was the draw), through Myers Park to Queen St. for 246, Taste, Lewis Eadys and finishing off at the best of the lot - Marbecks Records in the Queen's Arcade.

But I digress- Russia was an Auckland five piece band who, I think, had only this one single. They were guitarists Mark Wenski, Chris Murray, Tom Boucher on bass, Graham Osbourne vocals and Noel Christian drums.

I have no idea what happened to the band but Greg sent me a photo of guitarist Chris Murray, looking like a dude, busking outside Countdown in Pt Chev. - apparently he's a regular.

Lissa is a really good pop song with some nifty hooks.

Hidden gem: The B side is a real ripper - Boucher is obviously the bassist's name. The punkish attitude in the song held real appeal for me at the time, and it still sounds like a blast of energised pop music. 

Lissa is available for a listen on this link:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

There once was a time (The Rumour) #334

The Rumour L'Amour Est L'Enfant De La Liberte/ Nobody Knows (Polydor, 2069011, 1971)

This was huge in 1971 on the New Zealand music charts, thanks to Television exposure on Studio One (a NZ's Got Talent of it's day). Deservedly, they won the competition.

On the back of that win, this single stayed at #1 in NZ for four weeks!!! 

Now, you know- I'm a harmony man and The Rumour were NZ's Beach Boys, Shade Smith our Brian Wilson.

I instantly fell for their charms.

Like The Beach Boys, The Rumour had some seriously talented brothers at its core: songs were written by lead guitarist John (Shade) Smith with Gerard Smith taking care of the vocals and rhythm guitar, with their schoolmates and neighbours Jacques Koolen- drums, and Ross Hindman on bass. 

Hidden gem: a genuine gem on the B side - Nobody knows has some great harmony vocals and nice pop feel. 

By the way: you'll note that the photo shows it cost me $1.00- bought from an electrical appliance store in Greenlane, Auckland.

The first video is a reunited Rumour playing a snippet to a backing track, I guess. The full version is below it. Sadly, there is no clip of the Studio One performance on youtube.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You're so young but your feelings are deep (Linda Ronstadt) #330 - 333

Linda Ronstadt When Will I Be Loved/ It Doesn't Matter Any More (Asylum Records, F 4050, 1974)

Linda Ronstadt Back In The U.S.A./ White Rhythm and Blues (Asylum Records, E 45 519, 1978)

Linda Ronstadt How Do I Make You/ Rambler Gambler (Asylum Records, E 46 602, 1980)

Guilty pleasure alert: I have a thing for Linda Ronstadt. I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one.

Somehow she sits alone atop the female vocalist section of the rock pantheon.

An interpreter, not a composer, Linda could sing stuff by The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and J.D. Souther (as she does over these three singles) and make them Linda Ronstadt songs.

She took on a variety of musical genres in her career and never sounded out of place. As one critic noted, Ronstadt is "Blessed with arguably the most sterling set of pipes of her generation ... rarest of rarities – a chameleon who can blend into any background yet remain boldly distinctive ... It's an exceptional gift; one shared by few others".

She's a Parkinson's disease sufferer now and having retired from singing she leaves a giant empty but classy space in the musical world. 

Forget guilty pleasure - everybody loves Linda. And these songs endure.

Hidden gems: I love her delivery on White Rhythm and Blues, the J.D. Souther song. There's a lovely purity and innocence to her voice.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Have you guessed my name? (The Rolling Stones) #327 - 329

The Rolling Stones Brown Sugar/ Bitch (Rolling Stones Records, XRS 19100, 1971)

The Rolling Stones Tumbling Dice/ Sweet Black Angel (Rolling Stones Records, XRS 19103, 1971)

The Rolling Stones Sympathy For The Devil (Remixes)/ Sympathy For The Devil (Remix) (ABKCO? DECCA 12", 2003)

What can I tell you about these singles that you don't know, or haven't heard a million times before?

Nothing really right? But have you heard and thought about the lyrics to Brown Sugar? Ever? They are down right nasty! Slavery and sex and violence and weird denials (I'm not a schoolboy) - nasty!

But The Stones are The Stones! These are stone cold classics (pardon the pun)- instantly recognisable from Keef's first chord, from Mick's first snarl, from Charlie's first kick.

Tumbling Dice is off the peerless Exile On Main Street set and Sympathy gets a 21st century reboot with a variety of unnecessary remixes. I wonder whose idea that was.

Hidden gems: Like Brown Sugar, Bitch is a wonderful song off the great Sticky Fingers. What a terrific single full stop. 

Sweet Black Angel is a nice complement to Tumbling Dice - a kind of mini side 1 and side 2 of the album.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This foolish boy - his head is in a whirl (Alastair Riddell) #325 - 326

Alastair Riddell Wonder Ones/ Oh Ron (Mandrill, M 10005, 1977)

Alastair Riddell What Good Does It Do Me/ The Last Time (Mandrill, DRILL 3, 1978)

Space Waltz were iconclasts in the New Zealand music world. Everyone of my generation will still remember their wonderful/brave/shocking/exciting 1974 television performance on 'New Faces' - the NZ's Got Talent of its day.

Alastair Riddell was the principle writer and the lead singer of that band and after that great eponymous album he went solo. 

Both these A sides come from his 1978 album (called Alastair Riddell - his imagination went into the songs rather than his album titles!).

Wonder Ones and What Good Does It Do Me are terrific tunes, displaying varying aspects of his vast talent.

Hidden gems: Oh Ron is a great (Ron is his brother)  slab of glam Bowie style pop - definitely a gem!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm a-walking in the rain, tears are falling and I feel a pain (Del Shannon) #324

Bonnie Raitt Runaway/ Louise (Warner Bros., WBS 8382 25, 1977)

Bonnie Raitt has a wonderfully rich vein of authenticity running through her. 

When she tackles this cover of the Del Shannon song she puts her heart and soul into it, pretty much as she does everything she tries. 

That voice is full of so much honest emotion. Bravely, she is not afraid to take an iconic song and give it a rootsy treatment with guitars and blues harp to the foreground. 

Hidden gem: Louise is another cover - this time from Paul Siebel. It's a real country weepie that Bonnie again manages to bring a freshness to. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare (Radha Krishna Temple) #322 - 323

Radha Krishna Temple (London) Hare Krishna Mantra/ Prayer To The Spiritual Masters (Apple, APPLE 15, 1969)

Radha Krishna Temple Govinda/ Govinda Jai Jai (Apple, APPLE 25, 1970)

I am not a devotee of Hinduism but I respect their worship of the deity Krishna. I also respect and admire the interest George Harrison took in the London version of the Radha Krishna Temple.

That interest translated into producing a couple of singles and a great album of Krishna inspired devotional music for The Beatles' Apple Records label in 1969/1970.

I realise they are of minority interest but here's something hypnotically appealing about the chanting going on in these songs. Let them wash over you and I'm sure you'll be doing the mantra with me in no time.

Govinda is my personal favourite - the musical backing is more fully formed than the rather rudimentary and now over familiar Hare Krishna Mantra. Govinda is a terrific song- George's sympathetic production and a joyous chorus that speeds up to as close to a frenzy as the RKT can get to make this a repeated listening treat.

Hidden gem: Prayer... is not from the album so there's some rarity value attached to that. Govinda Jai Jai (Govinda Jaya Jaya on the album) is a repeated chant that also is not without charm. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Flash a-ah - savior of the universe (Queen) #321

Queen Flash's Theme (AKA Flash)/ Football Fight (Chrysalis, E 47092, 1980)

Oddly, this is the only Queen single I own. All those massive hits and perversely - this is what's in my collection.

I do remember loving this song, the hugely camp movie it came from, and the Queen soundtrack as a whole, but I remain ignorant as to why I own this single. 

I recall seeing the film a number of times and had it on video as well back in the day (recorded off the TV - this is before the days of video/DVD cash ins).

Those special effects in this eighties updated version of the old Flash Gordon serial are so ridiculously done that they become iconic, and even more so when thrown into the single.

Queen are perfect for all of this. Freddie does his best emote over an electronic pulse and surging Brian May guitars. The Queen harmonies are present and correct.  

Hidden gem: The B side continues the soundtrack from the film when Flash bowls over baddies during a mock American Football game (with Dale as a cheerleader). Huge fun!

Friday, November 7, 2014

I don't particularly like New York City (GNP) #320

Graham Purdy Live In New York/ - (Mutoscope, 1967)

Well, it's a single, and it's in my collection so it occupies its rightful position in the countdown at number 320.

My dad recorded this direct to disc in a voice-o-graph booth on the 86th floor observation deck, at the top of the Empire State building (then the world's tallest building) in 1967. I was 9, going on 10.

Why was he in New York? It was part of his big overseas trip to Canada, America, England and Europe when he was working for Burroughs Wellcome - the famous biomedical drug company. He was away for months, I recall.

GNP and his boys
a few years before his trip
During the record he says 'don't worry about me, I'm having the time of my life' but he generally hated this kind of overseas travel. This was a big but necessary sacrifice on his part.

My mother, younger brother and I stayed home at 18 Korma Ave., Royal Oak and eagerly soaked up dad's only method of communication which was by post. We received this record as part of a package he sent us during the trip.

It's weird hearing his voice again from nearly fifty years ago. He was young and sounds it. During the message he tells us that he got some sneakers for me and my brother, and 'a wiglet' for my mother in Woolworths.

This was exotic fantasy stuff beyond compare. Sneakers? That was on our shopping list for him but we didn't dare to hope he'd actually get them for us.

I remember when we got them finally on his return. High top sneakers from America!!! Who would have thought it.

Anyway here's dad from the Empire State building in 1967:

Hidden gem: No B side on this item.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let's get nuts (Prince) #319

Prince and The Revolution Let's Go Crazy/ Erotic City (Warner Bros 12", 20246-0, 1994)

Prince divides opinion. Some love him; some don't.

I can understand why. 

Sometimes he's ridiculously lewd, he's so prolific that oftentimes he has problems with quality control, he's reclusive, he can be weird (name changes and 'slave' facials don't help), he seems to have a skewed idea of Christianity, appears to court controversy, and he's annoyingly talented.

I boarded the Prince train with 1999 (1982) and got off around the time of The Love Symbol album in 1992. During the decade long journey Let's Go Crazy provided an early peak.

This song kicks off Purple Rain (movie and album) with an almighty 'let's go nuts' adrenalin rush. Prince is at his fiery Hendrix style guitar wig out peak on this track.

Hidden gem: The B side is a curious thing - it didn't appear on Purple Rain and the lyrics guaranteed controversy. It's a catchy but minor player in the Prince canon.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Let all your suffering cease (Billy Preston) #314 - 318

Billy Preston That's The Way God Planned It/ What About You (Apple, APPLE 12, 1969)
Billy Preston Everything's Alright/ I Want To Thank You (Apple, APPLE 19, 1969)
Billy Preston All That I've Got (I'm Gonna Give It To You)/ As I Get Older (Apple, APPLE 21, 1970)
Billy Preston My Sweet Lord/ Little Girl (Apple, 1826, 1971)
Billy Preston Nothing From Nothing/ My Soul Is A Witness (A&M, K 5602, 1974)

From time to time we all need some Billy Preston style musical righteousness. There is a warm integrity to everything Billy touched - with Little Richard, with Sam Cooke, with Ray Charles, with The Beatles, with George Harrison, with The Rolling Stones, and on his own.

The man certainly had his personal problems with drugs, alcohol, insurance fraud and sexual indiscretions but his music was always righteous.

The A sides here all have individual charms. My highlights: 

That's The Way... is a rapturous song - best heard on the album of the same name with a fantabulous guitar/organ duel between George Harrison and Billy which they both manage to win - you'll know what I mean when you hear the song- it's down below for your listening pleasure. 

The single version focuses attention squarely on the organ and the tune itself, which is brilliant.

Everything's Alright is guaranteed to put a funky smile on your face. Some wonderful Macca-esque bass from Keith Richards on this track, with Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Harrison, Doris Troy on board as well. What a line up!

My Sweet Lord (from his second and final Apple album Encouraging Words) is different from George's and actually came out before All Thing's Must Pass (which Billy plays on as well). It's a gospel song in Billy's hands.

Nothing From Nothing came after his Apple career - when he went on to have hits with this, Space Race and Will It Go 'Round In Circles

Hidden gems: Gems abound on these B sides. What About You showcases his organ playing, As I Get Older is an Ray Charles style instrumental belter.

Hard to pick the videos for this one but I have to share the album version of ...God Planned it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Suddenly I'm up on top of the world (Mike Post) #313

Mike Post Theme from Hill Street Blues, Theme from The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not), Theme from White Shadow/ Theme from Magnum P.I., School's Out, Theme from The Rockfield Files (Elektra 12", E1 60028, 1982)

This one is a doozy! An extended play 12 inch by Mike Post, the guy who ruled the television theme song world in the seventies and early eighties.

A very canny operator, he was too. By securing the cream of jazz sessioners he gave his popular themes a deeper musical resonance; by hiring other arrangers and composers to write in his style for the shows he could cover a lot of ground.

He was everywhere. These songs are only the tip of the Post iceberg. But what a great sharp end.

Hill Street Blues was one of my favourite shows back in the day. The theme is so wistful and so against cop drama theme expectations that it retains a huge impact. 

For me, it's the best moment on this E.P., but the hit song to Greatest American Hero, The Beach Boys-esque School's Out and the driving Magnum P.I. theme (pun intended) are all mega achievements as well.

The man had it in spades! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I always play the starring role (Police) #312

The Police Can't Stand Losing You/ So Lonely (A&M, K 7259, 1978)

The Police had a pretty solid run of hit singles starting with Can't Stand Losing You which came from their debut album Outlandos d'Amour (yes the one with Roxanne on it as well).

Gordon Sumner (A.K.A. Sting) can sure write catchy hit songs. That choppy cod reggae style the band adopted as a lief motif was a genius move.

Luckily for The Police they achieved synchronicity with the advent of MTV. Their videos were twice shy pop marketing pieces of perfection. So they became huge. That must play with one's ego, n'est-ce pas!?

Hidden gem: Great value for money on this single as So Lonely is another terrific pop song. Elsewhere in the world Dead End Job was the B side but the folk at A&M NZ clearly had other ideas!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Don't make it bad (The Beatles) #311

Wilson Pickett Hey Jude/ Hey Jude (Atlantic, AK 2737, 1968)

I've said it before and here it comes again - the versions by Beatles songs are always the best. Cover versions? I can take or leave in an off hand way.

Nothing alters that belief as Mr Pickett (for me) over emotes his way through Macca's song for Julian Lennon. Neither the presence of Duane Allman on guitar, nor the fact that it was a hit, wins me over.

Perhaps I should declare a bias here: my soul collection mainly comprises albums by Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men, Sly and The Family Stone, Isaac Hayes, Alicia Keys, P.M. Dawn, Mario Winans and Stevie Wonder. In other words, the smooth end of the spectrum.

A lot of soul shouters don't do it for me so if James Brown floats your boat you may - dig this Beatle cover. 

I know all this sounds like heresy (you don't like the Godfather of Soul? What's wrong with you? Eric Clapton thinks Duane's solo is the best ever!) but it's the truth Ruth.

Hidden gem: The B side has a longer version with even more yelps and yells crushing any personal meaning from the song.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You're looking very chic today Irene (The Photos) #310

The Photos Irene/ Barbarellas (Epic, ES 477, 1980)

I didn't know much about The Photos in 1980: didn't know they grew out of a punk band called Satan's Rats; didn't know lead singer Wendy Wu was really called Wendy Cruise (why change that? Cruise is a cool name); didn't know she had also managed another band before joining.

What I DID know was that Wendy could sing with some attitude and that Irene was catchy as hell: all those Ooooo Irenes!!

Hidden gem: The B side documents life at Barbarellas - a nightclub in Birmingham. It's not as catchy as Irene but it's got a nice chorus and it bounces along happily.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Well talk on the street says you might go solo (Tom Petty) #308 - 309

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers I Need To Know/ No Second Thoughts (Shelter, K 7149, 1978)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers  Refugee/ It's Rainin' Again (MCA, MCA 41169, 1980)

Tom Petty came roaring out of the gate with I Need To Know in 1978 - full bull goose bozo. It seems to only last a minute as it makes it's hell bent guitar rush to the exit grooves.

To me in 1978 it had the punk energy in the air then, but clearly wasn't punk. It was a Byrds/ Springsteen hybrid with a southern twist. That sounds weird- it was Tom Petty, okay!

Refugee remains my favourite Tom Petty song. It has such passion, attitude and presence - even though it was describing the end of a relationship, everybody has the right to be free, felt like a clarion call to arms in 1980. You don't have to live like a refugee (i.e. a victim)!! The Heartbreakers play as a single organism-like The E Streeters, like a great band does.

Hidden gems: No Second Thoughts was also from parent album You're Gonna Get It! and has the Tom Petty twang and a vaguely eastern acoustic guitar vibe going for it. 

It's Rainin' Again sounds like an experiment, an attempt to sound as much like Creedence Clearwater Revival in swamp mode as possible - doesn't come off though. Easy to see why it didn't make the parent Hard Promises album but it's turned up as a bonus track since.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Please lock me away (Peter and Gordon) #305 - 307

Peter and Gordon A World Without Love/ If I Were You (Columbia, DNZ 10344, 1964)

Peter and Gordon A World Without Love/ Nobody I Know (Capitol, 6076, ?)

Peter and Gordon I Don't Want To See You Again/ Woman (Capitol, 6155, ?)

You may not think you know these songs, but trust me- you do.

They are prime examples of Paul McCartney's long established gift of writing crafty little melodies that get under your skin.

The Peter Asher and Macca link is an obvious one. Paul was living with the Ashers for a time in the sixties while he dated Jane Asher so he knew her brother well. 

Gordon Waller had formed a bond with Peter when they were students.

The harmony duo were well placed to take advantage of McCartney's sixties Midas touch (seems to have deserted him of late though) - all of these A side songs (the two Capitol reissues are double A sides) were hits to varying degrees.

Woman is credited to Bernard Webb - a Macca pseudonym which he used to see if he could have a hit under a different name. Didn't really work so he abandoned that conceit.

The cherry of the bunch is World Without Love - a huge selling international number one.

Hidden gem: The original B side to World Without End is instantly recognisable as P and G from those harmonies but it's a million miles from the sparkle of the hits.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Who you gonna call? (Ray Parker Jnr) #302- 304

Ray Parker Jnr and Raydio A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)/ So Into You (Arista, ATA 592, 1981)

Ray Parker Jnr Ghostbusters/ Ghostbusters (Instrumental) (Arista, K 9454, 1984)

Ray Parker Jnr Ghostbusters (Extended version)/ Ghostbusters (Dub version), Ghostbusters (Short version) (Arista 12", MX 62905, 1984)

Ubiquitous. It means 'omnipresent, ever-present, present everywhere, all-pervasive, universal, worldwide, global'. In 1984 Ray Parker Jnr hit ubiquity city with the theme to the movie Ghostbusters.

It helped that the film was cool (Bill Murray IS Mr Cool) and popular. It helped that MTV, introduced three years earlier, was becoming a force. It helped that he was a fine looking dude. It helped that the song rocked its socks off. 

The song just oozes appeal - the memorable tag lines (I can't hear you, who you gonna call? Bustin' makes me feel good), the crisp 1980's production and that unrelentingly chirpy Ghostbuster beat.

Hidden gem: B side is the instrumental version - I prefer the A side with Mr Parker Jnr.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I got my soul shoes on my feet (Graham Parker) #301

Graham Parker and the Rumour Hold Back The Night, (let me Get) Sweet On You/ White Honey, Soul Shoes (Vertigo 12", 6831 040, 1978)

A.K.A. The Pink Parker, this EP has two distinct sides to GP and The Rumour - the studio and the live.

The real excitement here? Live, of course. But he ain't no slouch in the studio either.

I won his 1977 album Stick To Me in a competition of some sort, back in the day, and loved it. The Pink Parker came out between that and his previous album, Heat Treatment. He was in a rich vein of form.

Hold Back The Night is his cover of The Trammps song, but if you didn't know the original you would swear it was a GP song - compare the two versions below. The Trammps is wonderful in a Four Tops super soul way; great sax break too. GP adds some sped up London grit and attitude; groovy guitar too. 

Hidden gems: Live is where The Rumour really show their chops - the wonderful organ fills on White Honey are matched by the wonderful guitar fills and GP vocal on Soul Shoes. All up - an excellent value for money EP and on lurid pink vinyl to boot.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Turn my blue heart to red (Robert Palmer) Single # THREE HUNDRED

Robert Palmer Bad Case Of Lovin' You (Doctor, Doctor)/ Love Can Run Faster (Island, K7517, 1979)

Okay - sorry - obviously I have way more than 300 singles. Here we are at that number and I've just started on the P's! 

Yes yes, don't worry! The countdown will continue beyond the 300, through the vinyl and into the CD singles. Like a top - once it's spinning we need to see where it goes.

What a great song to begin the 300's. If you have the inclination - put on headphones with a large stretchy cord thing so that the plug won't come out of the computer as you dance around to this song.

Doctor doctor - give me the news! This one needs to be heard loud and the feets need to move and groove.

Bad Case... is Palmer's cover of a Moon Martin song. It was remixed with heavier guitars for a later compilation but this version still sounds pretty raw and exciting to my ears.

Hidden gemComing off one of his earlier albums (Double Fun), the B side is in the cool reggae style Robert Palmer has to himself. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

But, oh, that magic feeling (The Beatles) #299

Orange Bicycle Carry That Weight, You Never Give Me Your Money/ Want To B Side (Parlophone, NZP 3344 4577, 1969)

Back to the weird ones for this 1969 single version of some Beatle tracks off Abbey Road.

Their wikipedia entry tells you all you need to know: 

'Orange Bicycle were an English psychedelic pop band, which existed from 1967 to 1970. The band played a style influenced by The Beach BoysThe BeatlesThe Rolling Stones and the hippie culture. Previously, they also acted as support and backing band for the duo Paul and Barry Ryan as well as completing sessions for other vocalists, recording over 100 BBC Radio One sessions and appearing on UK TV.' 

The band comprised 
  • Robert F Scales lead singer (under his stage name Robb Storm)
  • John Bachini (Bass, guitar, vocals)
  • Kevin Curry (Drums)
  • Bernie Lee (Guitar, vocals)
  • Wilson Malone (Keyboards, Drums, vocals)
Their versions of these two classics from Abbey Road are pretty straight - as if done by The Iveys before they became Badfinger.

You'll have to take my word for it though as neither of these tracks appear on youtube. This is unusual for goo goo g'joob - even really rare stuff is on youtube, but there you go!

Hidden gem: Some lovely guitar noodling features on the B side over the rest of the band. Bizarrely, the lyrics are just a continual chorus of Wan-Two-Bee-Side. That guitaring is nice though.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

There was something about you (The Only Ones) #298

The Only Ones Out There In The Night/ Lovers Of Today (CBS, BA 222541, 1977)

I was a fan of this band in the late seventies. Knowledge of them coincided with my first stint of working at Marbecks' Records in the Queen's Arcade. I was studying at Auckland University and Roger gave me jobs in my holidays when things got busy in the store around Christmas time. 

Most people know the band from Another Girl, Another Planet - a great song that was on their first album.

This A side comes from their second album, Even Serpents Shine, which is my least favourite of the three they made.

But having said that, this is still a superior piece of edgy pop. Edgy because of Peter Perrett's quirky vocal style. An acquired taste, but one I really like.

Hidden gem: Their first single was Lovers Of Today. It came out on an independent label, before they moved to CBS.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I got love in my tummy (Ohio Express) #297

Ohio Express Yummy Yummy Yummy/ Zig Zag (Kama Sutra, 7N 25451, 1968)

Decidedly dodgy! This is bubblegum pop but I can always hear dodgy double entendres in these songs. Blame my English lit background where we saw symbols in everything! 

Yummy Yummy Yummy might be one of the dumbest lyrics of all time, or the smartest!

The Ohio Express weren't a real group (as so often happened with bubblegum). Instead a bunch of ever changing musos who recorded or toured the brand made up The Ohio Express. Who knows who the people in the 'official' video below are!

Hidden gem: Zig Zag is the instrumental backing track to another bubblegum band's song (1910 Fruitgum Co's (Poor Old) Mr Jensen. Why? The producers, for some bizarre reason, didn't want double-sided hits. Something to do with money I bet! Needless to say, it's complete tosh!!