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On Tour ’64 – The Rolling Stones

Available now from http://www.1960s.london

 

Side One

1. Around And Around (Berry) 

2. Off The Hook (Nanker, Phelge) 

3. Time Is On My Side (Meade) 

4. It’s All Over Now (Womack, Womack)

5. I’m Alright (McDaniel) 

6. Let’s Get Together (Nanker, Phelge) 

7. Carol  (Berry) 

8. Not Fade Away  (Hardin, Petty)

9. I’m Movin’ On (Snow)

Side Two

1.    Around and Around (Berry)

2.    Time Is On My Side (Meade)

3.    Carol (Berry) 

4. Mona ( McDaniel)

5. Not Fade Away (Hardin, Petty) 

6. High Heel Sneakers  (Higginbotham) 

7. I Just Want To Make Love To You (Dixon) 

8. Beautiful Delilah (Berry) 

9. Walking The Dog (Thomas) 

10. Susie Q (Hawkins, Chaisson, Lewis, Broadwater) 

Personnel

Mick Jagger – lead vocals

Brian Jones – guitar, harmonica

Keith Richard – guitar, backing vocals

Bill Wyman – bass

Charlie Watts – drums

Recording Details

Side One 

Tracks 1 – 6 recorded live on the 29th October at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and broadcast on the Teen Awards Music International (TAMI) TV show

7 & 8 recorded live for the Mike Douglas Show, Cleveland on June 18th and broadcast on KYW-TV3 on June 25th

Track 9 recorded live at the New Theatre Ballroom, St. Peter Port, Channel Islands on August 18th and broadcast on August 24th by ITV Channel Television

Side Two

Tracks 1 & 2 recorded live on the Ed Sullivan TV show 25th October

Tracks 3 & 4 recorded live for the Joe Loss Pop Show, BBC Light Radio on July 17th

Tracks  5-7 recorded live for the Joe Loss Pop Show, BBC Light Radio on April 10th

Tracks 8-10 recorded live at The Kurhaus, The Hague, Netherlands on August 8th 1964 and broadcast by REM TV/ Radio Veronica

Sleevenotes

1964 was a very eventful year for the Rolling Sones: this LP gives you a flavour of their international activity. We open with their explosive appearance on the US TAMI TV show where they topped a bill that included the Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry. The Supremes and The Miracles  Here’s Bill Wyman in 2002. “We heard that James Brown wanted to close the show but the powers that be insisted we do the honours. James Brown vowed he was going to ‘make the Rolling Stones wish they’d never come to America’. We sat backstage and witnessed an incredible set from James Brown and his Famous Flames. It made us very nervous knowing we had to follow him. We went to the dressing room to get ready, where Chuck Berry and Marvin Gaye reassured and encouraged us. We got a fantastic reception from the 5000 fans when we walked onstage, the crowd loved it. We along with all the other performers did a version of I’m Alright / Get Together with Jack Nitzche’s band. As we walked off stage James Brown walked up to us and shook our hands, saying how he loved our performance.”

Stones authority Nick Kent explained the significance of this performance in Mojo (2003).  “James Brown dances so intensely and with such daredevil animal grace that you half expect his legs to spontaneously combust. The performance is such a dazzling tour-de-force that it seems unlikely that anyone would even attempt to follow it. Then out troop five long-haired scruffy blokes with an androgynous-looking urchin-faced lead singer taking Brown’s place at the microphone. A juvenile, big-eared Keith Richards sparks up the opening riff to Chuck Berry’s Around and Around and for the next 20 minutes we are treated to the Rolling Stones going toe to toe with the king of soul and rhythm and blues and his backing unit, the most dynamic live band in the world. The Stones play fantastically with Charlie Watts and Keith Richards particularly outstanding but it is Jagger who leads the charge here. No other white band could have pulled it off.” Also included are Off The HookIt’s All Over Now and Time Is On My Side. Keith Richards writing in his autobiography gave a more pragmatic reason for their appearance on the show.  “There was no money in any of the early American tours. We did the TAMI show in America late in 1964 to get us back home. We earned $25,000.”

I’m Moving On is from The Stones brief tour of the Channel Islands in August. Carol and Not Fade Away were recorded for the Mike Douglas TV show in Cleveland before the band made their first appearance on the prestigious Ed Sullivan national TV show. Here is how the NME of 30.10.64 covered their performance. “The Rolling Stones had two spots on Sunday’s Ed Sullivan TV show. Towards the end of the first half-hour, to more prolonged screams than any British group has received in recent months, they performed Around and Around. Later they returned for Time Is On My Side. Lead singer Mick Jagger lacked fire and depth and looked very unkempt. Jagger did quite a lot of supple dancing between vocal choruses and the rest of the group was suitably animated. There was negative New York press reaction, particularly on Jagger’s appearance. Television columnist headlined his Journal American review “The Slobs” and described them as “rubbishy musical riff-raff”. Mick Jagger remembers that “Ed told us that it was the wildest, most enthusiastic audience he’d seen any artiste get in the history of his show. We got a message from him a few days later saying “Received hundreds of letters from parents complaining about you, but thousands from teenagers saying how much they enjoyed your performance.”

Next up are high quality versions of Carol, Mona, Not Fade Away, High Heel Sneakers  and I Just Want To Make Love To You recorded over two sessions for Joe Loss at the BBC and not included on the official On Air release. More eventful are the recordings from 8th August. Bill Wyman again. “We played a beautiful venue in Holland called the Kurhaus. It was an opera house in The Hague and it turned into a disaster. As soon as the curtains opened the crowd went berserk. 100 police were moved into position to protect us  and it ended up with chandeliers being broken and tapestries town from walls. After two numbers the leads were pulled from our mics. Stu (road manager Ian Stewart) was right in the firing line and got hit by a bottle.” A volatile crowd was inflamed by the tedium of sitting through five banal support acts and the incendiary remarks of compere Jos Brink. Beautiful Delialah is recognisable but the set soon descends into aural anarchy so that Walking The Dog and Suzie Q sound like The Seeds.

A national newspaper headlined its coverage of the Kurhaus gig “Rolling Stones cause chaotic destruction” . Tellingly one of the banners unfurled by the audience said “Stones Forever, Beatles Never”. The Satanic Majesties were on their way…

 Sleevenotes: Ruby Tuesday

LAMF – The Found ’77 Masters

Jungle TRACKLP77

My copies arrived this morning and it looks great. Heavy card sleeve, coloured vinyl, printed inner with my sleeve notes intact and a colour poster from a Roberta Bayley out-take (not shown here: you’ll have to buy the LP!).

Release date is RSD#2, July 17th.

L.A.M.F – The Found ‘77 Masters

Simon Wright, with thanks to Nina Antonia

This record rights a historical wrong as well as answering a key “what if?”. What if the Heartbreakers 1977 debut LP L.A.M.F. (Like A Mother Fucker) had sounded as good as their incendiary live performances? Finally we can hear L.A.M.F. as it was meant to sound and the results are revelatory. So how did this happen and why does it matter?

The Heartbreakers arrived in the U.K. in December 1976 perfectly placed to take advantage of the renewed interest in raucous rock’n’roll stirred up by punk going mainstream. The reputation of main man Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan preceded them from their time in the New York Dolls: bassist Billy Rath and guitarist / vocalist Walter Lure made up the quartet. Note it is the Heartbreakers – not Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers. This was a four-way unit, not a star and backing band: everyone had their part to play. As Blondie’s drummer Clem Burke said, “You could call them the punk rock Beatles. Each person really stood out.”

The Heartbreakers had been invited to the UK by ex-New York Dolls manager Malcolm McLaren to support his new proteges the Sex Pistols on their Anarchy In The UK tour. As Heartbreakers manager Leee Black Childers remembers “We would have toured with anybody, even Barry Manilow”. Sadly most of the tour was cancelled, leaving the Heartbreakers stranded penniless in London. Childers “The first gig we did in London was at Dingwalls and it was magnificent. You couldn’t have got another person in there with a crowbar! It was so packed. I thought…Oh boy…we’re gonna be the next Beatles, we’re gonna be soooo rich. Of course, the last Beatles weren’t wildly self-destructive junkies.” The next gig was at Andrew Czezkowski’s Roxy Club in Covent Garden, which is where Only One’s guitarist John Perry saw them play the gig of their lives. Like The Only Ones, the Heartbreakers were keen on late-night rock’n’roll youth club The Speakeasy, not least because it was where the A&R community hung out. Track Records had been keen to sign the New York Dolls back in 1972 and it was second time lucky when they signed the Heartbreakers, assigning them as producers Danny Secunda and Speedy Keen.

Except the band actually signed to The Chris Stamp Band Ltd. Chris Stamp was a director of Track Records as was Kit Lambert: both co-managed The Who. By 1976 the relationship between Stamp, Lambert and The Who was precarious and there was a lot of money at stake. According to Danny Secunda’s unpublished memoirs the legal difficulties facing Track Records were so great that the only way forward was the formation of a subsidiary label, namely The Chris Stamp Band (CSB) Ltd. One key clause in the Heartbreakers deal stated that if CSB Ltd went bankrupt all recordings would revert to Heartbreakers Inc, the company set up by Leee Childers and his business manager Peter Gerber.

The material on L.A.M.F.  comes from a variety of sources. “Pirate Love” was in the New York Dolls sets in early 1975. Before coming to the UK the first line up of the Heartbreakers – with Richard Hell on bass – recorded demos at SBS Studios in Yonkers which included “I Wanna Be Loved”, “Chinese Rocks”, “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You” and “Goin’ Steady”. By the time they played Max’s Kansas City on July 23rd 1976 “Born To Lose”, “It’s Not Enough”, “Get Off The Phone” and “I Love You” were in the set. Who actually wrote “Chinese Rocks” continues to be highly contentious: the original L.A.M.F. credits Thunders, Nolan, Hell and Dee Dee Ramone. When the Ramones finally recorded the song for their LP End Of The Century in 1980 it was credited solely to Dee Dee and Richard Hell.

After recording some demos in February 1977, LP sessions commenced in March at Essex Studios and Rampart Studios, the latter belonging to The Who. Recording the basic tracks took around a month: mixing took six months and involved five separate sessions at four different studios – Rampart, Olympic, Trident and Advision. Walter Lure: “The recording of L.A.M.F had gone well but we could never get the sound right on it. We were jealous of the Pistols record ‘cos it had such a great sound and we’d wanted to come up with something as vital, their production was incredible. L.A.M.F. sounded great in the studio but as soon as it went on record it sounded fucked up. We couldn’t get around that: every time we gave them a tape it sounded screwed up.” Johnny Thunders: “None of us was happy with the album mix. It sounded OK when we played the songs in the studio but when we got the tapes back it was fucked up. We mixed the album, right, and I liked it. I went back to New York, then Walter, who was still in England came in and mixed it again and fucked around with it. And then Jerry came in and mixed it again…I mean, fuck, nobody knows who did what in the end.” Leee Black Childers: “If you just keep mixing and adding on and mixing and adding on and getting stoneder and mixing some more, you end up with mud. So we had mud.”

Despite the mud, when the single “Chinese Rocks” was released on May 20th it sold 20,000 copies in its first week and was number one on the alternative charts. De rigeur that summer was the black T-shirt with Chinese Rocks in white lettering, bought direct from the Track Records office.  The LP was released on October 3rd but it did not fare as well: even critics who were friendly with the band had reservations. Jon Savage in Sounds: “The songs (mostly) are great, the playing assured, tight, adventurous – so what’s the problem? The mixing. The fantasy that they are includes an element of self-destruction, and here’s where it operates – they can’t seem to get it quite right. Or maybe it’s due to that excess of power. Whichever way, some of the songs “Baby Talk”, “Goin’ Steady” and still “Chinese Rocks” sound muddy – irritating ‘cause you know how good they could be.” Nolan departed from the band: ”I kept telling everybody, you put this record out the way it is, without a proper mix, there’s no reason for me to stay in the band.” Road manager Gail Higgins: “I think this time we all knew Jerry meant it when he said he was leaving. And whoever was to blame, he was right. That album did not stand up to the great ones of the time.” It is now generally accepted that the sound problem with the LP was due to a vinyl mastering fault, as cassette versions sounded fine. But that was the end of the Heartbreakers, although they would limp along until Spring 1978 with a variety of stand-in drummers.

After such a long wait it is a relief to report that this new version of L.A.M.F. sounds terrific. The difference is audible from the first drum flourish on opening track “Born To Lose” where the instruments are clearly distinguished and the balance between vocals, guitars and the rhythm section is just right, plus the backing vocals can now be clearly heard. Maybe “It’s Not Enough” should be your starting point – the beat-group style guitars have never sounded this crisp and this is the full (4:08) version with an extended coda so that the song ends rather than fades. Or listen to the interludes on “Pirate Love” where everything except bass and drums drop out and marvel at how clean the rhythm section now sounds. When “I Love You” ends abruptly you can hear the extraordinary amount of reverb that Keen and Secunda had applied. The antecedent of the guitar solo in “Goin’ Steady” is clearly revealed as Paul Kossoff playing “The Hunter” – Thunders always was an anglophile. The intro to “One Track Mind” is now a total attention grabber. Greater clarity on the frantically paced “I Wanna Be Loved” transforms the track from an indistinct thrash to a non-stop raver. 

At last you are hearing the twelve tracks from L.A.M.F. as they sounded in the studio to Thunders, Lure, Nolan, Rath, Keen and Secunda. This version also includes two bonus songs, a version of The Contours “Do You Love Me?” that was the Heartbreakers regular encore plus Jerry Nolan’s vocal debut on “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You”. Originally these two tracks had been released squashed onto the B Side of the “One Track Mind” single. Hearing them blossom into full sonic bloom is wondrous indeed.

The version of L.A.M.F. you are holding now would have been the best LP released in 1977. But if the LP had sounded like this when first released would it have made any difference? Jerry Nolan might have stayed. The LP might have got better reviews. The band might have achieved greater commercial success. However considering the personalities and predilections of the Heartbreakers and their record company it seems unlikely that the band were in for a lengthy career. Thankfully they made this one brilliant studio record which due to the persistence of Alan Hauser at Jungle has been restored to its rightful audio magnificence for you to enjoy. The final word goes to Gail Higgins: “On a good night the band was unsurpassable, it was the epitome of rock and roll. And it was never captured on the recording. Shows were packed because the fans were hoping to get the show of their life. Being their road manager I saw them all – the good, the bad and the ugly. And when they were good, they were beyond great! I only hope a new mix will let those who weren’t there feel the excitement of a Heartbreakers live show. “

“Was That Alright?”

The Found ’77 Master

Alan Hauser

Well, we didn’t see this release coming.  A chance meeting, a few discussions, a decision to investigate further and commit – and here we are. If you’re picking up this album as your first entry into the world of The Heartbreakers, you’ll be wondering – what makes this release any different from the previous releases of L.A.M.F.?  You’ll need to know the story of the master tapes…

When L.A.M.F. was first released the band were unaware that Track Records was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Early in 1978 manager Leee Black Childers turned up to find the Track office doors barricaded up with the Heartbreakers tapes inside.  He enlisted the help of Rocky and Chris, two boys from Kentucky aged 15 and 16 who climbed up the outside of the Carnaby Street offices to the third floor, broke in through a window and opened the doors to Leee. Leee remembers “Track Records were not famous for nothing. There were the original multi-track recordings of The Who, Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Brown and Thunderclap Newman. We were rich! But I called Peter Gerber and he wisely advised me to take only what belonged to me. So tearfully we left The Who and all the rest behind and took only the Heartbreakers tapes which were legally ours.”

Leee’s ‘burglary’ recovered the multi-tracks and about fifty reels full of mixes – the rights had reverted to the band with the label’s demise.  But crucially he didn’t find the final mix master-tape. In 1984 Johnny made the Revisited remix from the multi-tracks: a good effort but it suffered from ‘80’s sensibilities and taking just three nights to complete it.  In 1994, after Johnny and Jerry had died, we spent a week sifting through the fifty reels of mixes, and recompiled L.A.M.F. – The Lost ’77 Mixes from those numerous sessions.  Essentially these were all outtake mixes and we had to decide which versions worked best.  We had a lot to choose from, so it’s a pretty good approximation – that’s the main version that’s been around since then.

Meanwhile, dedicated fans had been comparing different 1977 versions.  How come the cassette version didn’t sound muddy?  Original Norwegian and French pressings became sought-after, as they didn’t quite suffer the same sound problem.  Devotees swapped notes and compiled favourite versions. In 2012, we released a box set with more outtakes and demos and attempted a ‘restored’ Track LP taken from vinyl.  However it couldn’t achieve the same clarity as the outtake reels.

Now this copy-master has been found, you can hear L.A.M.F. in the way that Speedy Keen, Danny Secunda and the band originally wanted, with all the clarity they intended.  Whichever version you listen to, always remember that it’s the Heartbreakers’ songs and performances that makes L.A.M.F. such an enduring album.

A Bucket Of Brains

Flamin’ Groovies

Parlophone 0190295104139

This year’s RSD No1 saw Parlophone release a nifty 10” pressing of the1972  tracks recorded for Andrew Lauder at United Artists called (I’ll Have) A Bucket Of Brains. If the title sounds familiar it’s because this release is an exact copy of the CD compilation that Jon Storey produced for EMI back in 1995 (my first ever CD!). Eight tracks, produced in the main by Dave Edmunds at Rockfield. Shamefully Jon’s original sleeve notes are not reproduced, nor do we get Phil Smee’s photos and memorabilia. A complete absence of credits means we do not know whether the record was mastered from the original tapes, or just copied from a CD. Certainly the original Shake Some Action sounds as muddy as ever although the extended Married Woman is sharp. Slow Death would sound great on a wax cylinder and You Tore Me Down will always sparkle. The 1995 mixdown of Shake Some restores the song to its original, slower tempo: only the Capitol demo version sounds better. Little Queenie and Need A Spot Of Rhythm And Blues are both rockin’ fun.

So put this on your scanner, expand from it 8 tracks to 12 and persuade United Artists to release it in 1972: voila, you just rewrote rock’n’roll history!  

Live in Montreux 1970 – Pink Floyd

Vinyl Double LP

Available now from http://www.1960s.london

Side  One

  1. Astronomy Domine (Syd Barrett)
  2. Fat Old Sun (David Gilmour)

Side Two

  1. Cymbaline (Roger Waters)
  2. Embryo (Roger Waters)

Side Three

  1. Green Is The Colour (Roger Waters)
  2. Careful With That Axe, Eugene (David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason)
  3. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (Roger Waters)

Side  Four

  1. A Saucerful Of Secrets (David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason)
  2. Just Another Twelve Bar (David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason)

Recording Details

All tracks recorded live at the Super Pop 70 VII music festival at the Montreux Casino, Switzerland on November 21st 1970 and broadcast on RTS Radio

Personnel

Dave Gilmour – Guitar, Vocals

Roger Waters  – Bass, Vocals

Richard Wright – Keyboards, Vocals

Nick Mason – Drums & Percussion

Sleevenotes

Following the departure of founder Syd Barrett in 1968 the Floyd began their journey from psychedelic pop group to internationally-renowned rock band, one capable of producing concept albums and film soundtracks. Syd’s erratic brilliance was replaced by the more grounded approach of new guitarist Dave Gilmour. However since Syd had written the Floyd’s hit singles See Emily Play and Arnold Layne his absence meant that a new creative direction was necessary. This release illustrates the band in transition with some early material supplemented by more recently written songs, some of which would never appear on a Pink Floyd album.

Pink Floyd spent much of 1970 touring America and Europe, so that by the time they played Switzerland in November their set was thoroughly road-tested.  An enthusiastically-received Astronomy Domine serves notice that this would be a powerful performance with extended song lengths allowing all four musicians to fully participate. Fat Old Sun was sung by Dave Gilmour and was taken from the album Atom Heart Mother, which had been released the previous month. The studio version clocked in at five minutes plus but the version here is over twice as long with much guitar / organ interplay.Cymbaline was taken from the Floyd’s soundtrack to the film More, as was Green Is The Colour.On Cymbaline the recorded footsteps section comes through very clearly together with a variety of other nightmarish noises courtesy of the Floyd’s near-mythical Azimuth co-ordinator. The studio version of Embryo was released on the Harvest compilation LP Picnic – A Breath Of Fresh Air, the live version features Dave Gilmour’s impersonation of a seagull, followed by a jazzy interlude. Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The SunandA Saucerful Of Secretswould have been well known to this crowd as they featured on the live portion of the 1969 double album Ummagumma. The pastoral Green Is The Colour is played as a medley with a menacing, whispered Careful With That Axe, Eugene. An ethereal Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun pulses around Nick Mason’s steady beat. A Saucerful Of Secrets starts quietly and builds inexorably to a wordless finale. Finallythe encore ofJust Another Twelve Bar is exactly that – based on the bass riff from Biding My Time it would never appear on a studio LP and is a rare example of the Pinks playing the Blues and gets the fans clapping along. Audience participation at a Pink Floyd gig? It’s a good thing that someone recorded it…

Sleevenotes: Lucy Fersam

Live on David Frost EP – The Rolling Stones

Available now from http://www.1960s.london

SIDE ONE

  1. Introduction
  2. Sympathy For The Devil (Jagger/Richards)

SIDE TWO

3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Jagger/Richards)

4. Honky Tonk Women (Jagger/Richards)

Recording Details

Side One

Tracks 1 and 2 ‘Frost On Saturday’ broadcast by LWT November 29th 1968

Side Two

Tracks 3 and 4 David Frost Show (US TV) recorded on June 16th 1969, broadcast July 7th 1 (Track 3) and August 21st (Track 4)

Personnel

Mick Jagger – vocals

Keith Richards – guitar, vocals, percussion

Mick Taylor – guitar (tracks 3 & 4)

Bill Wyman – bass, percussion

Charlie Watts – drums

Brian Jones – organ, percussion (track 2)

Rocky Dijon – percussion (track 2)

Sleevenotes

The years 1968 and 1969 were turbulent years for society in general and the Rolling Stones in particular. Having decided that the psychedelia of 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request was not a good look, Keith Richards went back to his roots for the highly acoustic Beggars Banquet LP. Lead track Sympathy For The Devil made its world debut on David Frost’s primetime TV programme to a mixed reaction: Loog would have been pleased that ‘angry viewers swamped London Weekend Television switchboards’ (Sunday Express.) It was the last time in his life that Brian Jones would be seen on stage with the Stones: he can be glimpsed playing keyboards, and percussion on the opening verses. When the Stones recorded You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Honky Tonk Women for Frost the following year Jones was gone, replaced by Mick Taylor. For all these tracks Jagger sang over a pre-recorded backing track: Sympathy also benefitted from some additional Richards’ guitar parts.

Sleevenotes: Mr. Jimmy

The Whistlers: A Mystery Within A Mystery

I watched this  2019 thriller online via Curzon Home Cinema and found it intriguing, albeit difficult to follow. It is always stylish and Catrinel Marlon is sensational as Gilda: just her name tells you she is going to be a classy noir female and so it proves.  The setting on the Canary Island of La Gomera makes you want to visit, and the whistling language used throughout the film really does exist.

Then from the film’s Wikipedia page I discovered that the films director, avant-garde Romaninan film-maker Corneliu Porumboiu, has edited the film so it plays non-chronologically. Would it make more sense if I watched it in the “right” order ? I bought a DVD on eBay with English subtitles and investigated.

The answer is yes, it makes more (but not complete) sense watched in the chronological order. And there is a happy ending (I think)

Here is the chronological order, together with start times for each chapter:

1. Szolt 15:47

2. Mama 40:17

3. Gilda 4:03

4. Kiko 27:44

5. Whistling language 12:26

6. Pako 49:56

7. Magda 56:37

8. Cristi 80:00

Chapters 6, 7 and 8 are in the “right” order. I don’t know when you are supposed to watch 0:00 to 4:02 so I suggest you start with this piece.

It is worth the hassle – the film it reminds me of most is Christopher Nolan’s Memento, which played similar tricks with time and that is praise indeed.

 

The Real Austin Powers (only much better)

As an impressionable teenager one of my favourite books was The Great Spy Race (1968) by Adam Diment, purchased for two shillings from The Effingham Junction Railway Station paperback exchange – the source of many of my formative literary experiences. Seeing a cheap copy on eBay last month I re-aquainted myself with the book and found that it holds up weell.

The Great Spy is a great romp through late 1960’s Swinging London. Its protagonist Phillip McAlpine is a reluctant hero who usually ends up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. He is more Harry Palmer than James Bond, only whisky is replaced by dope and acid and I can’t imagine Len Deighton putting Harry into a lime green suit.

I then set out to acquire the other three Phillip McAlpine novels – The Dolly Dolly Spy (1967), The Bang Bang Birds (1968) and Think Inc (1971). All are good, although Think Inc does contain rather more musing on the human condition than is entirely desirable in a thriller. Each one of them would have made the basis for a thoroughly entertaining film, and it is surprising that they did not although according to this Esquire article David Hemmings planned to follow up his success in Blow Up with the lead role in The Dolly Dolly Spy.

As far as I know Diment has published nothing since 1971, although there seems to be a resurgence of interest in his books according to this Guardian article. If you see a copy of any of the quartet I strongly recommend that you investigate. There are also some terrific cover designs to enjoy.

And at no point does anyone say “Groovy baby”

Eyes To The Sky – Alan Mair

Here is a hot new release from Alan Mair (Beatstalkers, Only Ones)  – released a mere 35 years after recording!

The song itself is a catchy blend of Alan’s multi-tracked vocals and a host of Zal Cleminson’s guitars with keyboards from Paul Rabiger. Hints of David Bowie can be discerned in Alan’s vocals and thankfully the track is free from overtly 1980s style production. The track started in Alan’s home studio with additional recording at Aosis Studios in Camden paid for by the A&R department of Arista Records. Why Arista did not pick up their option is beyond me – it is a very commercial sounding release and would have made a cool single back in 1986.

The video for Eye To The Sky was filmed by Alan’s friend Maggie on Hampstead Heath and features a walk-on appearance by Charlie the dog, see it here. The song is already available on Spotify and iTunes and a physical release on CD is imminent

The Best Kinks Live LP, Ever

The Stones, the Who, the Yardbirds and the Small Faces are all revered today for their live performances. Their contemporaries The Kinks: not so much. They were certainly an erratic proposition in the early days, not least because of onstage disagreements. This  1965 live LP is as about as good as it gets.  Later on they would become variously a music-hall act (on RCA) and heavy rockers (with Arista). But in between these eras, from about 1969 – 1971, there was a sweet spot when they played some really good gigs.

Unfortunately well-recorded recorded evidence is hard to find. There is an oft-booted recording from the Fillmore West in November 1970 which is an audience recording of an average gig. The Fillmore West show from 1969 is available as a soundboard recordng on CD as Back In The USA (Tendolar, 1999) and offers better sound and a more focussed performance.  Weirdly there is virtually nothing in decent quality from the UK or Europe during this time.

So I was delighted to find online a recording of the Kinks March 27th 1971 performance at Queens College, Flushing, New York.  The recording is very listenable. The instruments and vocals are clear but there is also a fair amount of audience noise. So it is not a straight soundboard recording, but the quality is too good to have been recorded by someone in the audience with a cassette recorder.  My guess would be a reel-to-reel onstage recording through some decent microphones. Does anyone know more ?

The audience response adds excitement to the gig and clearly enthuses the band, who are in fine form. The first three minutes sees Ray trying to do something complicated with the lights without success, culminating in his flouncing off with a “Tell you what, forget we came here.” Of course he is soon back onstage for the first surprise of the night, Johnny Cash’s  “Give My Love To Rose”.  Then a slightly hammy intro to regular set opener Til The End Of The Day, followed by an excellent take on Brainwashed.  The Lola… LP had been released the previous November and four of its songs are included: Apeman, Get Back In Line, Powerman, and the title track, which gets the best response of the night  Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Sunny Afternoon both inspire audience sing-alongs.

The second major surprise of the set is the inclusion of two rarely played gems, Mr.Pleasant and Autumn Almanac. According to the BB Chronicles blog this was possible because student Ben Rosenblatt introduced himself to the band before the show and was invited to sit in on piano for these two songs.  Ben does a marvellous job , particularly on Mr Pleasant. On the original record the piano part is played by the legendary session-player Nicky Hopkins: Ben takes Hopkins’ part, replicates it and even improvises around it. Autumn Almanac is slightly less sure-footed , but that is down to Ray – he introduces the song as “one that even I don’t know.”

Then it’s a brace of medleys, long a feature of the Kinks live performances. The first kicks off with a tough version of Milk Cow Blues, sung by Dave with Ray on harmonica. The segue to Powerman is handled well and the two songs fit together well., which is more than you can say for  the heavy-metal version of You Are My Sunshine which follows. Ray seems to realise this as he does a standalone version which fares better.  Then another mighty medley to finish off the set, this time You Really Got Me / All Day Of the Night.

Encores are demanded and delivered. Ray starts Waterloo Sunset alone before the band drop in around him, John Gosling’s piano and  Dave Davies’ guitar provide delicate support: the harmonies are spot-on, even on that tricky finish. A driving Victoria is built around Dave’s rhythm guitar and Gosling’s boogie-woogie piano and provides a rousing final number.

Even if you are only a marginal Kinks fan you will enjoy this and if like me you are enamoured of their every move between Face To Face and Lola then you will love it.

God Save The Kinks!

Download the full set here

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The Tightrope Walker / Hermine Demoriane

 

 

Seeker & Warburg Hardback  1989

This is a slight but beguiling book. Ostensibly about Hermione’s enthusiasm for walking on elevated ropes it actually provides a chronicle of London’s artistic set between April 1971 and March 1975. During this time Hermine was in an open marriage with the poet Hugo Williams and much of the book provides ample evidence of Hermine’s amours. Wandering predictably through the pages are Andrew Logan, Derek Jarman, Brian Eno, COUM, Allen Jones, The Moodies and a whole bunch of other luvvies. Less predictable is Hermine’s enthusiasm for Brinsley Schwarz, Dr Feelgood and Nick Kent  – indeed it is her professional and personal relationship with Nick that drew me to the book. Interspersed  with Hermine’s musings are a selection of writings and pictures on the history and cultural significance of tightrope walking. Educational but not as interesting as Nick Lowe having to playing two games of patience before he can face the day. If you were around during this period you are probably in the book and you’ll love it  – for the rest of us it is a period piece, a snapshot of when being a tightrope walker was enough to get you in The Times (even if you fell off a lot).