Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Chocolate - I Believe In Love

What a great tune by Hot Chocolate! I love how loud the hi-hats are in the mix. It reminds me of how loud the hi-hats are on the Blond album. I first saw this video courtesy of my friend Jessica. This comes from a series of VHS tapes called Music Unlimited that had all these music promos filmed in the early 70's of artists like The Equals, Tony Hazzard, Emitt Rhodes and The Sweet among others. Anybody know the history of these clips?


Friday, July 04, 2008

Mickey Rooney Jr. from Song on Myspace

Check out Mickey Rooney Jr's MySpace page. You can hear some cool tunes including a song by the Rooney Brothers from 1968. He also has a couple of great unseen photos of Song.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Martin Cerf on Big Star, Feb. 1973

WHEN MY BABY'S BESIDE ME
(Bell-Chilton)
Big Star
Produced by Big Star
Ardent 2902 Time: 3: 20
Flip - In The Street

by Martin Robert Cerf, Phonograph Record Magazine, Feb. 1973

Create-tivity. Inspiration. Sure do mean a hell of a lot fellas. Like I know this cat what's spent over a year completing an album that's supposed to stand for the answer to whatever question you might hope to put up. Sure, from December, 1971 up ta now. So, he just completed the mastering, spent months doin' that, blew all conceivable budgets in the first four months, and he held this really informal audition for some close friends. One of his buddies brought along a lady. The record started. She was asleep within twelve minutes flat.

Still another genius in Baton Rouge spent two years working on his first LP, one of them solo efforts where the guy plays, writes, produces, and amazingly engineers the whole shebang. Well, two years on, in mid-1971, the record was done. Just in time for the first Paul McCartney & Emmit Rhodes one-man-band LPs, and also, somethin' else he couldn't predict happened... two years passed, so when he finished the LP, the entire listening audience had caught up and passed where the guy's musical concepts were...The record never came out.

Then, about three months ago we were introduced to Big Star. Their first LP titled, presumptiously, NO.1 RECORD received just gobs of trade ads. Full color. And about six weeks of those advance "teaser" ads...you know the kind I'm talkin' about, the ones that progress in copy and art every week so that after six consecutive ads, if you save all your back issues of Billboard, you know what they're tryin' ta tell ya 'bout...That's called merchandizen'. So, the advance grease was in the skillet and ready for the test. Well, those that got the record must have been redlined-out, 'cause word has it within four days of receipt, DJ copies the nation over were showin' up in bargain bins everywhere...sealed. In fact, only one really bothered to listen, Jon Tiven, and he quacked in Fusion that, "Big Star are the greatest thing since The Count Five, The Yardbirds..." and so on...In short, the majority got a soft-on for Big Star's NO.1 RECORD.

And if matters weren't bad enuf, their record company which is owned and operated by the clever folk at Stax Records (The Dramatics, Carla Thomas) decided to finally hook up with a major record label, Columbia. And it was the age old situation which goes on every day in this hot biz where a group was caught up in the center of a problem beyond their control.

Oh, I forgot the important thing, the group's record is excellent. Not phenomenal, but certainly excellent. I'm speaking of the single of course, can't vouch for the LP though. Well, like in the first two stories I rambled off, there's a dramatic irony to the Big Star situation. So the record company is sold, group isn't workin', and it appears all is lost. Then this Fusion review comes out, and word of Columbia re-releasing the LP and applying a whole new effort there upon comes down. Terrific, a second chance for an act that well deserves a break. But hold on, now they wanna split up...that's not exactly true, only one member of the band is leavin', that's Chris Bell. But he's an essential part. 'Cause along with Alex Chilton he sang lead vocal and back up harmony, played lead guitar and at least co-produced and arranged all of the group's first LP...so tough shit huh. Nope. There's still this here single. And the AM market doesn't care if the band are androids or computers, long as it's in the plastic. Let me assure you people, this is one of those singles...

Like the first ten seconds explode with -this lead that sounds like The Guess Who at their best with some Alice Cooper thrown in for good measure. Then it forms this riff what coul embarrass Albert Hammond and the Troggs. And lyric content...you lookin' for any teenage these days, we always are, And Chris didn't forget it either..."Don't need to talk to my doctor, don't my shrink, don't need to hide behind no locked door, I don't need to think, 'cause when my baby's beside me I don't worry, when my baby's beside me all I know, when my baby's beside me I don't worry, when my baby's beside me I don't worry"* ...And it gets bitchier and bitchier. Then there's Jody Stephens who's working out on snare 'n cymbal better than the cats on Treat Her Right and Shakin' All Over, his stuff is real elementary, no Elvin Jones here, but it doesn't matter, it's great (like the stuff on early Sonny & Cher singles (i.e., Little Man). And the part about droppin' out of school makes it complete.

Now at first glance this might appear like any number of other fine pop singles available, don't be fooled, this is another Bus Stop, Don't Bring Me Down or Have I The Right. Christ, Alex was with the Box Tops and you know how important all those AGP records from the mid-sixties were, now don't you?

Now there's still 3/4ths of Big Star together. They still have this new LP out there. And there's still this single. Oh, it's got a fine B side too, which could be an A side...In the Street is like The Doobies' Listen To The Music; sounds great on a car speaker or burned out Silvertone. And dumb lyrics...you get a whole shit-load here. Big Star sound like the Byrds too. A lot, really. No, this is a group you don't wanna pass up, believe me. And, you may never hear of them again, God forbid, so let's do what we can to make sure they're around for some time...We suggest you write off the the benevolence at Ardent Records for a free copy of this single, they must have hoards of R/A's by now and they promised to cooperate too! Write to Ardent Records, 2000 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. (Big Star are as hot as our good buddies - the Raspberries, don't dare miss 'em)...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Big Wheel


Big Wheel - Curly Girl (Metronome) 1970

If the Jook gets you off then this should really take your head off. What am I saying - it'll take anybody's head off. Starting out with a crazy siren-slash-pickslide that bounces left and right in stereo. It's brutal glam in the Hammersmith Gorillas vein with some tremendous Keith Moon frantic drumming. It wouldn't sound out of place on Bowie's Pin-ups because the basic track has this 60's Troggs/Kinks brutality to it but the spacey effects, blistering Ronson lead guitar and Bowiesque singing are undeniably 70's. This group has nothing to do with the Big Wheel that ended being comp'ed on the Velvet Tinmine CD. This one is Dutch is related to the band Unit Gloria.

Peter Noone sings Tony Hazzard

Peter Noone released a handful of good singles on RAK in the early 70's. After RAK, he made only one single on Phillips before moving on to Casablanca records: 

(I Think I’m Over) Getting Over You / All Sing Together - Phillips 1973. The A-side was written by the great Tony Hazzard. 

Here's what Alan Betrock had to say about this single:
Peter Noone - "(I Think I'm Over) Getting Over You" (Phillips)
By Alan Betrock, Phonograph Record Magazine, January 1974

How could Peter Noone make a comeback if he's never really been away? After Herman's Hermits disappeared from the American charts, they continued to have mild success in their homeland, and Peter, on his own, recorded some wonderful solo singles. One, David Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things" even dented the British Top 30. Having been a pop star at the tender age of 15, Peter is one up on the Gerry Marsdens, Freddie Garrity's and Billy J. Kramers of the world, who are all at least a third of a century on in years.

Noone's freshness, vitality and appeal stems from this youthfulness. This is his trademark, and his unrestrained versatility makes him a prime choice for guest spots on British variety shows. He can be seen every week on the "telly" - a well rounded vaudevillian much like Davy Jones - who can appeal to the tots, the teens, and the 'mums and dads'.

On this side of the Atlantic, Peter is still quite an unknown entity. His commercial resurgence began with the British Invasion Package Tour which showcased Noone's professionally entertaining and endearing stage act. He took the critics and audiences by storm, gathering raves from most corners. His television appearance on Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and Midnight Special have not been so stellar as the nature of the medium tends to cram Peter's one-hour performance into six minutes. But at least these shows help to get Peter's name known again, and his recent Sonny & Cher gig gave him more valuable exposure.

All of this is nice, but Peter will never really be back until he can rid himself of "Mrs. Brown," "A Kind Of Hush" and all the others. If he is pigeon holed as a mere revival act, the novelty will quickly wear off, then it's back yo the pubs again. So Peter has taken a major step in attempting to establish himself as a current performer. He has shelved his old label, hired a new producer, and released a new single.

The result is available on Peter's debut Phillips release. Writer Tony Hazzard (remember "Ha Ha Said The Clown", "Fox On The Run", and "Goodnight Sweet Josephine"?) penned this ditty, and Tony Atkins produced it. It's a good combination of styles, and melodic too, with Peter's double-tracked voice soaring throughout. A steady piano rhythm carries the song which is accented by a nice use of strings. This use of strings is most thankfully tasteful, avoiding the usual pitfall of overdramatic and unneccessary arrangements. "Getting Over You" combines Noone's Bowie phase with middle Bee Gees, and adds a great high falsetto of his own. This is a good start and if Peter keeps putting out strong records, and getting airplay, he just might be back - this time to stay.

Extra: Because You're There, a Graham Gouldman-penned B-side from 1972.


Modern Folk Quartet - This Could Be The Night

The MFQ, Phil Spector and Harry Nilsson nearly beat the Beach Boys at their own game. I wish they had made a 45 of this tune! This was the theme song to the Big TNT show.

The fabulous For The Love Of Harry blog has a sound clip of Harry Nilsson's demo.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Greg Shaw predicts the future/present in January 1979


In the January, 1979 issue of Bomp, part of Greg Shaw's "The Beat" editorial column proposes the creation of a "society for the preservation of pop culture." The proposed foundation could be headed by the likes of Jerry Wexler, Clive Davis, Seymour Stein, John Hammond and Andrew Lauder and funded by the major record labels. In the process, Shaw predicts a future that looks identical to the present day. Read how Shaw envisioned it:
"...The primary goal would be the collection, on tape and microfilm, of a definitive library of music, film, video, and printed history of pop music, starting with today and working backwards into the early years of the century, eventually linking up with other organizations dedicated to preserving the history of jazz, folk music, etc. But first taking care of rock & roll. At the rate the cybernetic revolution is progressing, by the time this could be done every school, library and maybe even home, in America would probably be able to have direct access to all this material. Imagine 20 years from now, if every teenager could sit in his bedroom with a computer screen and terminal (with stereo speakers attached) and call up anything he wanted from Billy Ward & the Dominoes to Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds - see what they looked like, read extracts from fanzines and historians who wrote about them, cross-referenced to other artists and sources, and above all hear the music, and maybe even see film footage if any exists. All of this is feasible with the technology of today and the next couple of years. It's effect would be to create a lasting rampart against the danger of gigantic industry brainwashing the public and eliminating all roots, all variety from our culture. Even disregarding that, it would be a worthwhile effort from the standpoint of preserving a huge chunk of American culture..."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alan Merrill solo in Japan

Tremeloes - By The Way

Great song...

Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show now on DVD!

I just laid down the cash for this DVD set on Amazon. I can't wait!

Update: We stayed up and watched all 3 DVDs the same night we got it. The show is really repetitive with some pretty boring skits using the same sets & costumes over and over but some of the recurring skits are cool. I especially liked Fabulous Freddy and Chucky Margolis. The uptempo music performances are hilarious. The Bros are constantly mugging to the camera with over-the-top lipsyncing. The slower numbers actually look closer to a real performances. Along with some covers, they do nearly all the songs from Hollywood Situation!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Defunct station - Pop45radio on Live365.com

Around 7 years ago I had a "radio station" on live365.com. It is long gone now. Here was the final playlist I wrote for the pop45 website:

The Pop 45 playlist - live365.com

23rd Turnoff - Leave Me Here
Actress - It's What You Give
Aeroplane - It's So Better
Aeroplane - September In The Rain
Aerovons - World Of You (from Fading Yellow 1)
Alzo - That's Alright (I Don't Mind)
Alzo & Udine - Want Your Love
Beach Boys - This Whole World
Bee Gees - All Of My Life
Bee Gees - Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator
Bee Gees - Sinking Ships
Tracks from Bergen White's Lp - For Women Only
Billy Nicholls - White Lightning
Buster - Superstar
Daisy Clan - Love Needs Love
Dana Gillespie - London Social Degree
Dawn Chorus - A Night to Remember
The Dodgers - Just Wanna Love You
Dwight Twilley - Alone In My Room
Fairfield Parlour - Baby Stay For Tonight
Fairfield Parlour - In My Box
Fargo - Round About Way (Of Describing of Situation)
Fat Mattress - Magic Forest
Flintlock - Sea Of Flames (Mike Batt written & produced!)
Flying Machine, The - The Devil Has Possession Of My Mind
Garry Benson - Holly (from Fading Yellow 5)
Giles,Giles and Fripp - I Talk To The Wind
Giles,Giles and Fripp - Make It Today
Giles,Giles and Fripp - Why Don't You Just Drop In
Ginger Ale - In The Sand
Greenfield & Cook - Only Lies
Pete Ham - Catherine Cares
Harmony Grass - My Little Girl
Harmony Grass - What A Groovy Day
Headstone - Turn Your Head
The Herd - Our Fairy Tale
A handful of Herman's Hermits tracks.
A bunch of Honeybus songs from Old Masters Hidden Treasures.
Hotlegs - Today
Tracks from the 1970 Jamme Lp on Dunhill/Warlok.
John Pantry - Glass House Green Splinter Red
John Winfields - Whisper Who Dares
John Winfields - You Know You Go
Elton John - Annabella
Judas Jump - Run For Your Life
Lally Stott - Henry James
Tracks from Liverpool Echo's 1973 self-titled Lp on Spark.
Tracks from Majority One's 1973 self-titled Lp on Pink Elephant.
The Majority - Charlotte Rose
The Majority - Time Is On Your Side
Mark Eric - I'd Like To Talk To You
Mark Eric - Just Passing By
Maurice Gibb - Railroad
Maurice Gibb - Silly Little Girl (R.I.P Maurice.)
Micky Jones and Tommy Brown - If I Could Be Sure
Mike Batt - Suddenly
Mike Batt - The Joker's Song
Mike Batt - Wendy (from Fading Yellow 5)
Mindbenders - Schoolgirl
Nashville Teens - Ella James
Nashville Teens - Tennessee Woman
Tracks from Nick Garrie's Lp, The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas
Nimbo - Forget Her
Nimbo - Maisie Jones
Paul Brett Sage - 3D Mona Lisa
Paul Brett Sage - Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave
Phil Cordell - Red Lady - (from Fading Yellow 1)
Portobello Explosion - We Can Fly
Pretty Things, The - The Good Mr. Square
Remo Four - In The First Place
Tracks from the 1969 Richard Twice Lp on Philips
Robbie Curtice - When Diana Paints The Picture (from Fading Yellow 3)
Rough Riders - Do You See Me
Rough Riders - Hot California Beach
Roy Wood - Forever
Rubettes - Little 69
Rumbles Ltd. - Push Push
Scrugg - I Wish I Was Five
The Searchers - Indigo Spring
Tracks from the 1970 Sheridan Price Lp, This Is To Certify That...
Smyle - The Tandem
Smyle - It's Gonna Be Alright
Smyle - She Means A Lot to Me
Rick Springfield - On The Other Side
Song - Like We Were Before
Song - Whenever I Think Of You
Stamford Bridge - Move Out of Town
Stamford Bridge - The First Day of Your Life
State of Mickey & Tommy - Sunday's Leaving
Tracks from the self-titled Steve and Stevie lp on Toast records (1968)
Stormy Petrel - Hello Hello Hello
Sundragon - Peacock Dress
Sundragon - Far Away Mountain (from Fading Yellow 1)
The Blue Jeans - Hey Mrs Housewife
The Casuals - Caroline
The Casuals - Naughty Boy
The Fourmyula - Lady Scorpio
The Fourmyula - Toffee Apple Sunday
The Herd - Beauty Queen
The Holy Mackeral - Scorpio Red
The Jackpots - King Of The World (from Fading Yellow 1)
The Matchmakers - Droopy Loopy
The Move - Chinatown
The Searchers - Desdemona
The Twilights - Pasternoster Row
Thomas & Richard Frost - She's Got Love
Thomas Dean - Oh Babe
Tracks from The Toms 1979 Lp
Tony Burrows - Melanie Makes Me Smile
Tracks from 2 Tony Hazzard Lp's - 1969's "Sings Tony Hazzard" and 1973's "Was That Alright Then".
Tony Rivers and The Castaways - I Can Guarantee You Love
Tracks from We All Together's 2nd Lp (1974).
Tracks from Willow's self-titled 1973 Lp on 20th Century.
Witch Way - Hold On To Love
Tracks from Yellowstone & Voice's self-titled 1972 Lp on Regal Zonophone.

Thank you to Mark Frumento, J├Ârgen Johansson, Richard Vaughn, Crawdaddy Simon, Patrick Beckers, David Bash, Ashley Norris, Sam Grawe and Richter Atmosphere for many of these tracks.

Greg Shaw - Selections from Jukebox Jury Nov. 1975

DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND -"You Were So Warm - Shelter 40450
The screaming rockers of "I'm On Fire" show a softer side here, recalling shades of the Byrds and the Searchers. The flip, "Sincerely,"' introduces the Zombies as well. I think that what I like most about the Twilleys, apart from the impeccability of their sources, is the cleanness, the bare simplicity of their sound. They never over-produce, and they're not afraid to be tastefully derivative. This will bomb in the discos, but they don't care--the girls they want to reach are too young to do the hustle anyway.

BAY CITY ROLLERS -"Saturday Night" /"Marlina" - Arista 0149
Like everyone else, I'm a little appalled that these dorks should be considered for even a moment, by anybody at all, to have anything in common with the Beatles. But at the same time; I've liked almost all their records, beginning with "Keep On Dancing" in 1971. For a hard pop group (not quite Slade or Sweet, but more than Middle of the Road) they're not bad. "Saturday Night," a 1973 single in England, is currently on its way to becoming their first U.S. hit. The closest thing to a hard rocker they've done, its success here may say something about American tastes, since none of their more characteristic earlier efforts fared as well. In fact, "Saturday Night" started out as the B-side of this disc, backing the more tuneful (somewhere between Rod Stewart and Albert Hammond...) "Marlina:' actually their latest recording. Since their progression over the last four
years has been from harder to softer, the question is raised as to what they'll do for a follow-up if "Saturday Night" becomes a hit, short of raiding the back catalog still further--not that anyone in this country would be much the wiser.

WARWICK - "Let's Get The Party Going"
- RAK 211 UK
The one RAK record I'd really like to see out here is "Let's Get the Party Going" by Warwick, which sounds like the Jook attempting to turn the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" into a modern post-glitter classic. Doesn't quite overwhelm, but comes close, and is worth searching out (RAK 211, in England).



By Greg Shaw - Jukebox Jury column, PRM Nov. 1975

The Matchmakers Picture Sleeve Gallery


Ricky Wilde - Record Mirror Interview 1973


STAY AS SWEET AS YOU ARE... says Valerie Mabbs after meeting Ricky Wilde

THE SUN is shining down and the tiny village of Tewin in Hertfordshire has an air of complete relaxation around it. The skylark winging over the modern building of the Tewin Cowper school is keeping up a constant stream of musical singing, but it's another kind of singing that is currently keeping interest high among the inhabitants on ground level.

Marty Wilde, one of the big British names on the Fifties scene, moved to the area just three years ago, with his then eight-year -old son, Ricky, and nine-year-old daughter, Kim.

Currently it's Ricky who's attracting attention in the area, since signing up with Jonathan King's U. K. Records emporium. You remember Jonathan King, the guy who had a hit with Everyone's Gone To The Moon, and was the forerunner to Muhammed Ali for sheer speech power.

This time around it's not his own praises that Jonathan's bellowing but young Ricky Wilde, who he claims will be as big, no, bigger -than the American invaders like Cassidy and the Osmonds.

I'm An Astronaut was Ricky's first venture on record, and it has now been followed up by a recording of April Love one time monster hit for Pat Boone.

The fan mail is already pouring in to UK's London offices, and Ricky has appeared in such influential Stateside teenage mags as Tiger Beat, who frequently boast coverage on Donny, David and the Jackson Five. The glossy ten by eight photos are already circulating, depicting Ricky as a definitely desirable property.

It's rather good on meeting him to discover that he's in the school playground beating the life out of a football with his best mate, Nigel. Ricky's anorak is hanging off his shoulders as he comes over to say hello, and he's protesting wildly at being told to change out of his well worn and patched jeans into something more suitable for a photograph.



Grilled

So this 11 -year -old really is just that. A typical boy who's enjoying the attention he's getting -no doubt -but actually meeting the Press without having yet been rigidly grilled in the art of response to interview questions.

"I like being scruffy," grins Ricky. He really does look like a perfect contender for the Artful Dodger role in Oliver. "I like those jeans I had on. But, no, I don't mind wearing smart clothes sometimes if I have to." But the kind of antics Ricky gets up to usually demand that he wears very casual clothes.

"We muck about tripping people up and slapping them round the face," says Nigel, who actually is a very quiet lad. "I remember when a girl came running up to Ricky and we tripped her up and she went flying straight on from this slope! "

Ricky and Nigel demonstrate their face slapping routine, which makes me wince, but leaves them rolling about laughing. "We play football all the time," says Rick, and Nigel adds: "He's the best footballer in the school. "

"Oh," laughs Rick, "we haven't got a proper school team, but I like to play in goal mostly, though they never let me because I'm too brilliant on the pitch!"

In the village of Tewin, school is almost a home from home. The entire roll-call of Tewin Cowper School is only 150, which means headmaster Bill Furlong still takes some of the lessons. But that is not where his involvement stops.

"I'm very fond of Marty," he told me, leaving his school to watch Ricky being photographed. "I suppose because he is of an age when he could be my son. In fact I have a son who is slightly younger. I've known Ricky since the family came here, and I'll be very sad to lose him when he moves on to another school this year. It's possible he'll go on to the boys' grammar school, but we're trying to decide whether it's good for him to go to a state run school if he's going to continue with a career in music.

"Ricky's a very artistic boy, and he's quite good at English. I enjoyed his I'm An Astronaut record, but I think April Love could be a mistake, because it is suited more to an older person's voice -but then that's just my opinion. "

An opinion given with deep consideration. Mr. Furlong is a headmaster very open in his attitude to his pupils.

"One morning in assembly Mr. Furlong was playing a record and then suddenly he stopped it and we heard I'm An Astronaut coming out…Ricky went all red, he blushed," recalls Nigel. "Then Mr. Furlong said that the four people who were good and the most helpful would get Ricky's record. I didn't get a copy, but then Mr. Fulmer came up and said I could have a record, 'not for being good, but for being helpful'! "

Ricky himself takes the same light-hearted boyish attitude to life that Nigel also does. They're happy fighting around on the lawn of the Wilde's prettily thatched home, or cycling through the country lanes. Ricky has gained his cycling proficiency badge, and plans to take the test again this year with his new Chopper bike.

"But don't look at that badge," he grins cheekily. Then pointing to a picture of himself, cut out and made into a badge, he adds: "This is the best one. "

The living room of the Wilde's home reflects the musical influence that has been introduced into Kim and Ricky. Marty's silver disc for Teenager In Love hangs on a wall, and a microphone stands close to an expensive stereo system. Ricky's mother, Joyce, was also a singer with the Vernons Girls.

"I don't know, though," says Ricky. "If it's important to me to be a singer…I don't know at my age if it's going to be a proper job because my voice might go. I like being a singer, but dad doesn't think it's the best job I could have. He says if I want to do it, great, but I mustn't show off, and I must realize there are phoneys around. "

Ricky is also aware of the strains that being a singer can bring. His parents are currently touring Australia, and Ricky and Kim are being looked after by family friends.

"It's disappointing when dad goes away for six weeks, but they have to go, and you have to take that kind of thing. I've got quite used to it. I got my best teddy bear back yesterday from when I left it in Durban, South Africa. "



Experiment

Ricky's first record, I'm An Astronaut, was written by Marty Wilde, and given to Ricky to record almost an experiment. Then April Love followed -"I like that best," says Ricky. Though neither have hit the charts, yet, Ricky has already found himsely in the middle of frantic girl fans.

"It's quite exciting for me," says Ricky. "I was making an appearance at Harlequin record shop in Oxford Street. I only expected a hundred girls to turn up, but there were about 400. What 600?" says Rick as his publicity man puts him straight. "Wow! I didn't know that. I had two bodyguards to help me, ano both the buckles on my white jacket were ripped off! "

When Ricky was visiting Amsterdam to broadcast on radio, he found himself on the same plane as Donny Osmond. "He asked me for my autograph for his sister Marie," he says. And did you get Donny's autograph, I wonder. "Well no," grins Rick. "That put me one up didn't it! But I like Donny's singing and I think he's ever so nice. "

Don't mistake Ricky Wilde's bravado for arrogance. In fact during our conversation I discovered that Nigel hadn't heard his friend's latest record -which indicates that Ricky doesn't yet have a great preoccupation with his own importance.

An album is currently being planned for Ricky and there is the possibility that he will be appearing on Top Of The Pops soon and may start working on some live dates. He is still continuing with his piano lessons, and guitar practice -with help from dad -but his main consideration at the moment is his two girl friends, Alison and Emma…and, top of all things, football and fun and games with Nigel.

Face pulling is going on as Nigel leaves with us in the car; and then Ricky's running like mad to beat us as we pull away up the lane, past the grazing cows.

Here's hoping Ricky manages to stay just as natural as the Tewin countryside, as the showbiz machine grinds on.

- RECORD MIRROR MARCH 31 1973

Ricky Wilde 45 reviews




Ricky Wilde is a favorite here at pop45. He is the son of pre-Beatles British rocker Marty Wilde and the younger brother of Kim Wilde. He made records on Jonathan King's UK label before he was even a teenager.

I Am An Astronaut/Hertfordshire Rock
UK Records #18 - 1973
Ricky was only 11 when this record was released. The A-side is a really catchy novelty song with lots of bizarre sound effects and an inventive arrangement. The tune reminds me of "Neanderthal Man" by Hotlegs with the sounds from "Space Oddity". Dr. Demento has played this one on his novelty radio show.

Hearing the B-side, "Heretfordshire Rock" for the first time is an intense experience. The arrangement is really vicious, with feedback, crunching guitars and drums and loud handclaps. Ricky sounds like a teenie Suzi Quatro on this one. the lyric "Heretfordshire Rock" sounds more like "I'll Treat You Rough".

Mrs. Malinski/Cassette Blues
UK Records #59
We have never heard this single. Somebody please send us a copy!

Teen Wave/Round & Round
UK Records #63
"Teen Wave" is a (pre)teenage rock n' roll anthem in the vein of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" or the Jook's "Crazy Kids". The arrangement sounds like a Giorgio Moroder/Chicory Tip song because of the early use of synthesizers. It really has a great Glitter chorus with the backup singers yelling "NO!"

"Round and Round", the B-side, is a cool little song with acoustic guitar, tom tom drumming and bells.

I Wanna Go To A Disco/Bad Boy
UK Records #70
"I Wanna Go to A Disco" sound even more like Chicory Tip than "Teen Wave' does. The synth upfront and like the Chicory Tip song "Good Grief Christina", it sound like an updated Beach Boys surf song. The "Oo Ba Ba" backup vocals emphasize this. I can really relate to "Don't cut my hair..." part.

I have the DJ promo, so it doesn't include "Bad Boy", which is a cover of Marty Wilde's biggest Fifties hit.

April Love/Round And Round
UK Records 45-49013
"April Love" is a cover of Pat Boone's hit song. They probably thought that Donny Osmond's revival of "Puppy Love" made this a good idea. It wasn't.

Mike Saunders on Thundermug

Thundermug -Thundermug Strikes Lp
Epic Records
By MIKE SAUNDERS
Phonograph Record Magazine

"Orbit" is the title of the opening cut here, and it's a beaut! What it really reminds me of is "Johnny Thunder" on the Kinks' Village Green LP. Ray Davies once said he wrote that song as a 1967 Who move, and "Orbit" seems to be Thundermug's premier success in the same vein: a poised effete melody backed up by hard rock riffing, made even more effective by the extra bonus riffs that keep popping up. Flawless power pop, it sounds like a perfect 45. And it was. If it wasn't a hit in Canada (Thundermug's homeland), there's no justice across the border.

For the real point of reference here, though, you have to forget about "Orbit" and move to the end of Side one for "Africa." As a 45 on Big Tree last year, this tune won Thundermug a bit of notoriety here in the U.S. No wonder you'd have to be deaf to ignore a record that opens with a half dozen jungle madmen pounding like War playing meth-rock, shifts into a short power pop chorus a la "Orbit," only to shift back to the jungle until the next chorus. Interesting, and compelling as well, but kind of confusing if you know what I mean.

Most of Thundermug Strikes derives strongly from "Africa," with "Orbit's" influence intermittently straining to break through. Although a stylistically confused album, there are many flashes of genuine promise. A few points are in order:

(1) Why give more fat Canadians the time of day? Because Thundermug are from Montreal, a burg boasting groups like the Wackers, Pagliaro, April Wine, Fludd, Mahogany Rush, and Moran. None of 'em great, but all are respectable pop groups on one level or another.

(2) The Kinks are supposedly Thundermug's favorite group and major influence. This doesn't connect at first, because Thundermug's sound is far removed from the Kinks then or now. But there are song titles like "Victoria Muse" and "Garden Green," and if you'll sift through the frequently overbearing instrumental sludge to dig out the melodies, Thundermug's Bill Durst has written some very catchy Kinks-ish effete melodies: Like "Garden Green." Or "We'll Never Forget," which done properly might sound like Sparks filtered through the 1968 Move. Or "Mickey Mouse Club," another fine song that should've sounded a lot better than it does.

(3) Which leads to the next point: this album is full of good to excellent material weakened by ill-fitting arrangements, mediocre vocals, and some serious excess. First, lead singer Joe DeAngelis has a voice that, I dunno, it just doesn't fit this kind of music. He's gruff like David Clayton-Thomas, at his worst sounding like a combination of Ian Gillan and Bob Hite. Too much excess vibrato and too much sweaty screaming.
Second, look guys: I love fuzzbox, tasteless wah-wah, arid deluges of metal rain-if it's done right. Done poorly it just sounds like sludge. Except for "Where Am I," it doesn't sound like you'll ever be much of a heavy metal group, and that song's an anomaly anyway because the rhythm section is mixed down with the rhythm guitar way up in a frentic (sic) fuzzbox style not heard elsewhere on the LP. Cool it with the War meets James Gang outbursts and listen to some more Kinks records, OK?

(4) For the time being, Thundermug would seem to be a singles group. This LP was compiled from the best of their two Canadian albums, which I'm told are pretty bad in comparison. Another unfavorable comparison is that of their 45 of "You Really Got Me" (included here) to the Kinks' original. It's great that Thundermug did it with an intended faithfulness to the original, but they blew it anyway, dragging the tempo and adding almost twenty seconds to the song's time! Nice try, but no dice.

Ultimately, there's only so much you can say about a young group with a couple outstanding singles. Thundermug shows a lot of promise, but they also have a lot of rough edges that need ironing out - they've got a lot of work cut out for themselves. They might make a good album given time. They might not. They might achieve one-month stardom just like Edward Bear and then devote their lives to scientology. Or they might be dropped by Epic five weeks from now when this album doesn't sell. Whatever the case, make a point to hear "Orbit" for sure, "Africa" maybe, and decide from there for yourself.

Martin Cerf on Thundermug



Thundermug
AFRICA (B. Durst-J. DeAngelis)
Produced by Greg Hambleton
Big Tree 154 time: 3:21
Flip -No Information Available
By Martin Cerf - Phonograph Record Magazine - 45 revolutions Per Minute Column.

It was a rainy, shitty night -on U.S. 23 drivin' down from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just finished attendin' this college radio convention, Christ, these kids get it on better than their old men attending those annual Gallencamp Shoes get togethers in San Francisco where side-burned, tweeded out head horn-toads score for the first time in twelve months...So, just out of Lansing it starts to blast over the Budget Rent-A-Car shoddy Impala speaker, the perfect proving ground where singles make it or break it. HOT STUFF.

It's like The Immigrant Song taken to the extreme, none of that pseudo stuff like Crazy Horses. The distortion here is stiffer than the AUDIO FIDELITY STEREO CHECK OUT track which'll take you up to 40,000 decibels...lt's guaranteed to rip the finest of speakers.

I was certain it was either the new Alice Cooper or Roy Wood, couldn't be anything else. Then the slutty sell-out voice didn't even mention who these dudes were, no, he went right into that Johnny Rivers voter registration, public service record...For shame, that's like gettin' a cashier's check tor eight grand drawn on the Bank of Managua, like it was no use. Certainly I'd never hear it again. Then a reprieve, a local Detroit personality, Bo Clifford (no relation to Cliff Richard, Clifford Brown, Boax Gentry, boa-constrictor, Clifford Coulter) got wind of the side again and got word to us, fortunately. Thank goodness.

OK, there is very little known about the group. Most probably a studio act. It's a UK record, and will unquestionably be very hard for you to find. But those who had the opportunity ta catch Do Ya by the Move, Some Sing, Some Dance by Pagliaro, or Little Willy by the Sweet, well you'll not be able to justify your existence till ya hear this. There might be some possibility of locating it in one of the major retail record stores specializing in singles, 'cause it's on Big Tree. This is an incredible label; buy every record you can find on Big Tree. They've had fifty-seven singles so far (I've got 'bout 50) and the first twenty-five are already worth two bucks apiece. The label has (has had) stuff by Lobo, Dave & Ansel Collins, Neighborhood, April Wine, The Magic Lanterns, James Vincent, the Sugar Bears, Brownsville Station, The Happenings...How could you pass up records with titles like the pleading I Need Love or the nostalgic Working My Way Back To You or the intellectual Rock With The Music ...no way...and Africa is the definitive Big Tree record...The fellas at this label know how to pick 'em...Not a bad one in the lot and Big Tree is responsible for bringin' us over 58% of the novelty records produced today, definitely a company to be reckoned with...Thundermug are the greatest since Bull Angus and Sir Lord Baltimore...good gosh...

Pony article from World Pop News 1974

Pony Music Sparks 70's Pop Revolution
Author Unknown (Most likely Greg Shaw?) - World Pop News Vol.1, No.1 - July, 1974

LOS ANGELES - For years now, people have been looking for something new to happen in pop music, some group to come along and cause the excitement that's been absent for so long. And, according to advance reports from the few who've heard their forthcoming album, that group could easily be Pony.

Pony is a new group formed by four young musicians with extensive and varied music backgrounds and an intensive love for rock & roll. They all grew up in the Sixties, weaned on Mersey rock and '60s pop, sharing the same inspirations and respect for the sources of rock music's greatest vitality. Accordingly, Pony's original songs strike one on first impression as the most dynamic new approach to music since 1964.

Dan-Paul Milner and Brad Johnson grew up in the Minneapolis rock scene, which in the years 1964-69 was one of the nation's most prolific regional music centers. Brad got into music through Elliot Fine of the Minneapolis Orchestra, with whom he studied drums for seven years. Dan bought himself a guitar in 1965 at the age of 13 and was soon active in a band called the Visions, which lasted five years on the local circuit. When the Visions disbanded, Dan drifted west to Los Angeles, realizing that a musician could only become so big in Minneapolis, no matter how good he was.

It was in Los Angeles that he met John Polhert, an intense rock fan who had played on and off in groups since: age 13 and was particularly influenced by British pop and its American derivations like the Merry Go Round.

Like many a music-loving kid, he found a job at a record store, where by chance Dan-Paul Milner was also employed part time while waiting for opportunity to knock. It was soon discovered that they shared a similar outlook and philosophy of music. While listening to records popular at that time, inspiration struck: "We can do better," and they wrote the first of several songs together. The group Pony was soon to follow. Ron Jensen, a local friend, was brought in on lead guitar. Ron had several years musical experience himself, having been in his quota of teen groups and played with a fairly successful band out of Denver, the Five O'Clock Rush, during that city's brief mid-sixties peak as a local music center. At that point only a drummer was lacking, so Dan called on his old friend, Brad Johnson, with whom he had shared many a stage back home in Minneapolis. With the semester over, Brad left college and came to Los Angeles to complete the lineup of Pony.

From the start, Pony was a remarkably harmonious blend of talents. All were the same age, in their early twenties, all had cut their teeth on the electric excitement of the British Beat era, all had paid their dues in local bands for the better half of their lives, and when they began working out songs together it was as if they'd been playing with one another for years. Dan-Paul clicked with both John and Ron and together as well as by himself began turning out songs with an astonishing degree of sophistication, as well as energetic vitality and youthful exuberance. Moreover, all four could sing well enough to accomplish the kind of harmonies that had so enraptured them in the records of the Beatles, Hollies, Buffalo Springfield and other mid-sixties groups.

Although only together a short time, Pony has already made giant strides along the proper path to the pop stardom they all so intensely desire. They have gone unerringly to the roots of today's rock, searched out the original spark that has been too long stifled, and with it ignited their own original compositions.

Barry Kaye, the producer of Pony's debut album (scheduled for August release on 20th Century Records), has worked closely with them for nearly a year and deserves much of the credit for developing the group's sound and arrangements. Kaye has this explanation for Pony's startling impact: "It's simple, really. They've arrived where they are today through long years of the kind of dedication and hard experience for which there's just no substitute. On top of that, they have a common ideal of what pop should be and an unusual ability to actualize that ideal in their music. These guys are something special, and they're just what today's music scene needs."

Billy Nicholls - Rock Marketplace article

Who Is… Billy Nicholls?
By Alan Betrock. From The Rock Marketplace no. 10, June 1975

In comparison with our first two Who Is features (Carol Connors, and Tony Rivers and the Castaways), Billy Nicholls career has been much less prolific. In actual fact, Billy only has one single (two if you count a single off an album), and one album to his credit. Yet there's a lot more to his story then released product might indicate, So read on and see why Billy Nicholls should be a TRM household name…

Billy's story begins like so many other British kids. He was from pretty much of a middle-class family, and was a rather active school-kid, Billy recalls how he first got into music: "Everytime we had a school break, I'd go down to the music room---we called them cells---and I found a broken guitar down there one day, I never played guitar before, I bought a set of strings from working in a Wimpy Bar, and started to play, I wrote my first song in about ten minutes…"

Billy's father had played in a band, so there was some obvious family-musical influence, Billy would practice and write songs throughout his years through "what you would call High School". At age 17 or 18 he was accepted at a few Art Colleges, but he wanted to pursue a musical career: "My parents gave me a hell of a lot of freedom, When I was young my father used to knock me around a lot, But when I got older and wasn't bringing any money home---I was just writing songs---he let me alone. Then once I did start earning money I left home…"

Billy then hooked up with Immediate Records: "Soon as I left school, I was already writing seriously. I sent some tapes off to Andrew Oldham, and he liked them.

So he hired me as a songwriter---with Del Shannon mainly---and a few other people," (As coincidence would have it, TRM also has Del Shannon and Immediate feature stories in this issue, so be sure to read those for more Nicholls tie-ins...). Billy tells about his writing experiences at Immediate: "I was learning how to write songs, and I used to love Del Shannon. We wrote four songs together. It was a good experience to write with someone else, and I'd certainly do it again. I love to write for other people, and I just love commercial songs." As to the Shannon songs themselves, Billy is a bit hazy: "There was one called 'Led Along'---I think it got to #3 in Pitts burgh or somewhere like like…"

Billy was soon called upon to be a singing artist as well as a songwriter. Strangely enough, his debut for Immediate was not written by himself. It was written by someone credited on the label as "Paul" (last name). Billy explains: "Would You Believe' was a demo that someone sent in, and I loved it. I played it to Ronnie Lane and he understood it immediately. It had been around there for years!"

So Nicholls recorded "Would You Believe" with production and arrangement by Small Faces Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane: "I did it with the Small Faces---it was good, but Andrew overproduced it, He added all sorts of strings and lots more, I actually had expected it to be a hit, until Andrew overproduced it. Someone once called it the best overproduced single of the Sixties" , Actually even with the "overproduction", it is quite brilliant, It pure British-Small Faces pop, circa 1967/8, There's loads of falsettos, strange instruments, powerful drumming and some amazing backup ravings from Steve Marriott, All these over a nice melody with nifty lyrics, Under the circumstances, Billy did enormously well, The flip, "Daytime Girl" (a Nicholls original), is simpler and more of Billy comes through, His voice has always been distinctive, having that uncanny knack for lilting high range lead vocals, and effectively moving harmony falsetto's.

Nicholls then went on to record an album for Immediate---but it was never released, "At 18 I did an album that cost thousands of pounds, but it never came out, I was really quite fond of it. All the great session men were on it--Nicky Hopkins, John Paul Jones etc. Plus everyone around Immediate would help out. That's what kind of organization it was, I played and sung on so many Immediate recordings, There was loads of stuff, I had, and still have, a high voice, so I used to get called upon a lot. I did alot of voices on the early Nice stuff, There's a couple of songs on my album that still turn me on a bit"," Billy continues to talk about Immediate: "Oldham was producing the album, Immediate Records would have, and could have, been amazing---like Stax, but on a different wavelength, There were people like Chris Farlowe, PP Arnold, and The Faces---we all helped each other. Like, I spent a whole summer on Odgens Nut Gone Flake, just overdubbing vocals and other ideas…everyone helped each other on records."


But after this album was not released, and other events occurred in the business, Billy gave up and moved over to the United States. "I was really disillusioned with the whole business, I took a job gravedigging. I did lots of jobs, I got very ill and was recuperating for about a year, I lived in Connecticut for a while, and other places as well from 1969-1973. Then I saved up and got a really good guitar," It was Billy's contact with Meher Baba which really turned his head around: "Baba says that you have something to do in life, and you just gotta go do it. For me it's music, and that's what I'm going to do". With renewed spirit and direction, Billy returned to England and teamed up with friend and mentor Pete Townsend. "Pete was always my idol when I was young. After I had known Pete, I found out that my father and his had played for years in the same band! I said to my father 'don't you know he's my idol???'. I do demos with Pete at his studio, and I had a song called "Hopeless Helpless" which was supposed to be for the Meher Baba album." (It later appeared on Billy's solo album.) Billy did contribute one song to Townsend solo album (Who Came First), a lovely tune called "Forever's No Time At All". Here Billy plays guitar and sings lead in his patently refreshing manner.


Shortly thereafter, Billy began recording his own solo album, "I started by recording and paying for it myself', In late 1973, GM Records heard some rough masters, and became interested, Caleb Quaye came in and we basically did it together, overdubbing etc. The album is a bit schizophrenic, really, because it was done over a period of about a year. "Billy relates his philosophy on album making: "When I make an album it's really got to be fresh."

"You get to know every track really well, There's so few albums like that nowadays, It's like having twelve ideas and using only one---the really good one. I work on one track until it's all finished. When I go the studio, the song is absolutely finished; there's no two ways about it. Anyone else who is there is there for a specific purpose, No mucking about---I have a finished product in mind, I can't stand people who sit around in the studio waiting for a riff to come, We recorded mainly at Olympic and Pete's Eel Pie---also Ronnie Lane's Mobile Unit. 'Kew' was done straight Iive, no overdubs at all."

The finished GM album, Love Songs, was released about a year ago, and it certainly must rank as one of the best of the year; sadly underpromoted and unknown. Billy songs are short and melodic, 'His voice is appealingly distinctive, The musical backing is perfect. My favorites include the opening "Winter Rose", "Kew" (with a rocking Ronnie Wood on guitar), and the soft "Hopeless Helpless". The best one though is "White Lightning", Billy's three part song about a boy with a toothache, Here it all comes together, melody, lyric, vocals, and production, Caleb Quaye's electric guitar is stunning and the song is just perfect. Sadly, as a single, nothing happened.

Billy spent the end of 1974 working on the Tommy film soundtrack: "I worked on that for three weeks straight, It was a fantastic experience, I did all sorts of vocals. I liked 'Stardust' and 'That'll Be The Day", but Tommy is a lot different than that," Billy's current favorites revolve around John Lennon ("he writes amazing tunes, and always sticks to his guns"), and the old Small Faces ("they were really influential around the time of Ogdens, and all their great singles-just writing singles for ingles,"), "Maybe I'm living too much in the Sixties. There was a lot of romanticism in the late sixties---now it's more businesslike I guess, My involvement with Meher Baba straightened everything out for me, and changed my outlook on music.' It helped me get over my disillusion. Now I know I have a job to do, and I just have to go out and do it. Besides that, Pete Townsend is probably my biggest influence."

Billy came to the United states at the end of 1974 to try to get his GM album released here. Some companies were interested, but a final decision seems not to have emerged. He is already well-through a second album, so it seems like his first one will not be issued here. This second album will have an outside producer: "I'm looking towards some sort of a concept album now---songs that I've written fitting together. I love recording, but if I could avoid going out on the road, I would. I may do a British tour soon, though." Billy Nicholls is one of the few British musicians who came through the sixties madness better than ever. Most others changed musically, went stale, or retired. Billy, judging by last years solo album, is more alive than ever, and he'd buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm. I can only urge you to pick up on his old material where possible, and keep your eyes peeled for his new material. It's sincere, and with Billy's great playing-singing-composing talents, I know it's gonna be distinctively appealing. And in this day and age, that's certainly a lot!

Billy Nicholls Discography (1975)

Would You Believe/Daytime Girl
Immediate 063 1/68

White Lightning/Hopeless Helpless
G.M. 018 1974

Love Songs GM 1011: Winter Rose; Gipsy; Travellers Joy; Stay Awhile; Little Lady; Sometimes; Hopeless Helpless; Overnight Train; White Lightning; Kew; (1974).

Wrote & Sings: "Forever's No Time At All" on Peter Townsend's Who Came First LP: US MCA 7-9189
Wrote : "Led Along" and other songs on Del Shannon' s LP & Unreleased Oldham Tapes;
Appears in various capacities: on Tommy Film soundtrack; and Ronnie Lane's A&M LP.

Martin Cerf on MHRB - Natural Man

Marcus Hook Roll Band - NATURAL MAN (Vanda-Young)
Produced by Wally Allan
Regal Zonophone RZ 3061
Time (very long)
Flip -Boogalooing Is For Wooing

By Martin Cerf - Phonograph Record Magazine - Jan. 1973 - 45 revolutions Per Minute Column

I'm not really concerned that this record hasn't been released in the United States any more. Well, mebbe juz a little. You see, I'm in an interesting position. A lucky one for which I'm grateful. If I come across a great single, or group, I get to call it to the attention of this here record company called United Artists who presumably will check it out. There's a couple others around who hold a similar relationship. Like Ralph Gleason at Fantasy, Don Heckman at RCA, Ed Ward (with all good companies) and others. And why not use our good sense? Rockridics like Ed Ward know what they're talking about...He's documented the subject matter for so long, obviously he's able to analyze the demographics of a specific recording and judge its worth against the competition.

(Ward's tastes have brought Asleep At The Wheel, Mott The Hoople and Commander Cody to the surface. And John Mendelsohn was tellin' us consistently about the Kinks, David Bowie, the Move and Christopher Milk so long ago I almost forget I'm teenage.) Which brings me to the matter at hand, the Marcus Hook Roll Band. Where did I first hear Natural Man? Over the phone, from this guy, Ron Eyre, who works out of UA in New York City. He wanted to know what I thought...He's always playin' stuff on the phone and sending tapes and what not...But most of the material he sends is second rate (which is only natural as quality, innovative stuff numbers few)...Ron said "Ya know who these cats are don't cha? It's Vanda and Young, and they made a lot of money for United Artists back in 1968." Sure, Vanda and Young, they were to the Easybeats what Wood and Lynne are to the Move. And in some ways they're a better combination (since they have been able to stick together for so long).

Eyre said Capitol Records had turned down the master, wasn't interested in another foreign act... You see Capitol has first option on all EMI material in the States. Then it comes to VA. Well, I asked Ron to send out the single to Bill Roberts (my partner) or myself and we would listen close up.

It was about fourteen days later when one of the faces from the VA A&R Dept. plodded into my office with the single and expounded lazily, "Ah, say, here's that Marcus record from England you wanted to listen to..." Our A&R wizz-kid wasn't keen on this record, "Take a listen to it and see if it's any good." To say he wasn't motivated is to say little.

So, I call trusty ol' Greg Shaw, anglophile expert that he is, into my domain. With the A&R hopeful still present, I inform Greg who we were. gonna listen to then Dropped the cartridge. Hearing that repetitive fender staccato chording intro, Greg and I were, fifteen seconds in, jumpin' up and down to the music of the Easybeats reincarnated. All the promise Vander and Young implied with Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight in 1969 they live up to here. If you can imagine what the Easybeats would have sounded like four years on should they have stayed together, then you know what Natural Man is all about.

Wazit sound like? It's got a snare that tears speakers. It's got protest lyrics. It demands you dance. It's got Beatle harmonies. It's got a riff the best this side of the Hollies' Long Cool Woman and Heaven Knows by the Grass Roots, and a hook, well, now I know the reason for the group's name…Towards the end of the record the riff slows; then stops, then builds through the use of: (1) a nasal lyric, (2) Cow Bell, (3) Sizzlin' guitar progression and, and, and... Then it leads into the most inherent repetitive verse: "In-it to the rhythm, in it to the top, everybody 's talkin' to ya never gonna stop, well don't cha worry bout me, I'm a Natural Man... in it to the rhythm; in it to the top... " etc.

As is obvious, Greg and I beseeched the A&R people to jump on the side immediately, pick it up for our heroes, United Artists... Well, I'm not about to categorically list all the events that followed, all that matter~ is UA don't have it. And those folks who originally turned the side down, Capitol, they have decided to exercise their option after all...

But something real curious happened the other day though. Capitol's greatest asset, Ken Sasano, told me they reversed their decision once more and they didn't want the record after all. So I put in a call to the head of International A&R at the Tower and lightly queried him as to the company's position on the recording..."Where the hell did you hear we weren't releasing the record. I heard Natural Man in July while in England and decided then to release it on Capitol. So whoever said we weren't puttin' it out, is crazy"...My, my so defensive...The cat seemed really pissed there Was any question at all...Why he was so adamant that I absolutely freaked when .I found out the record still isn't released and it's now three months since they picked up the master. Rumor has it the record is comin' out sometime in January. Such priority.

So, in the meantime, you can only get Natural Man as an import on the EMI sub label Regal Zonophone. And it's worth the 2 bucks you'll have to lay down for it...The B side, Boogalooing Is For Wooing is a whole other subject...It's so great, I might just save it for the next column. (89 points, both sides.)


Alan Betrock on The Jook


The Jook "Alright With Me/Do What You Can" RCA 2279 (UK)
The Jook "Shame/City & Suburban Blues" RCA 2344 (UK)
The John's Children saga never dies!!! Here we find The Jook, a new London quintet, being managed and produced by John Hewlett---late of John's Children---. And who is the drummer in this very same Jook? None other than Chris Townsend, the notorious skin-beater for John's Children!!!!!! While John's Children went thru various phases of image-making: the mod look; the short-hair look; the nude look; etc., The Jook seem to be experiencing the same kind of molding. They started out as a "long-hair" band, but now have embraced the short-hair look. Coupled with that is the return to 1967 Mod clothes, combined with the futuristic garb sported by David Bowie. Picture if you will a combination of the mod and rocker aesthetic and enter The Jook. Their first record, "Alright With Me" is a commercial sing-along rocker with some early Slade production bits thrown in---the highlight, tho, is the killer 1967 psychedelic guitar solo ala Pete Townshend!! It probably goes over quite well in concert….

The second Jook release "Shame" doesn't live up to the promise indicated by their premier effort. An updating of the Willie Dixon song doesn't really get anywhere, and lacks power & punch---however, there is another "My Generation" guitar break which almost make the whole thing worth having…
By Alan Betrock The Rock Marketplace no.2 July 1973

The Jook "Oo Oo Rudi/The Jook's On You" RCA 2368 (UK)
Undeterred by their lack of record-selling success The Jook return with "Oo Oo Rudi" which is clearly their most commercial release to date. An anthem-like guitar riff weaves its way throughout, conjuring up visions of the Jook marching thru the streets followed by their legions of space-mod fans. The melody line is too simplistic and a bit overbearing, but the lyrics continue in the 1967 Mod-rebellion style: "All we hear and all we see/And everything we learn from/Is planned by the older Generation"….."If they knew/If only they knew/What we're all about/Maybe then they'd understand that their way won't last…." And yes, they do treat us to some more killer guitar breaks.
By Alan Betrock The Rock Marketplace no.3 October 1973

Also coming next issue: …our friends the Jook keep on coming with two newies! Speaking of the Jook, they've just been signed to backup the British Sweet tour, so perhaps they will finally burst onto the charts. Their next single is rumored to be a 1974 mod classic---the working title of which is: "Bish, Bash, Bosh". Not exactly as original as Creation's "Biff, Bang, Pow", but a great move nonetheless…
By Alan Betrock The Rock Marketplace no.5 April 1974

The Jook "King Capp/Rumble" RCA 2431 (UK)
The Jook "Bish Bash Bosh/Crazy Kids" RCA 5024 (UK)
The Jook have issued two new singles since we last checked in with them. The first "King Capp" was a rather plain rocker which saw little action. Perhaps that's why they switched producers to John Burgess for "Bish Bash Bosh". This is one of the groups most commercial singles to date, a driving rocker with an upfront vocal and backing vocal chorus. The drums are especially well recorded, and if it wasn't so repetitive, it might have been a big hit. The flip is one "B" side that the group took seriously, and I really like it more than the "A" side. It shows that the group finally are developing a sound of their own, as well as a confidence and lack of imitative pretense which marred much of their earlier work. The lyrics are fine, the beat is strong, and the hook chorus is their most commercial and memorable one to date. It's too bad that the group broke up after this single was released because they showed signs of finally breaking thru. But there are rumors that they may reform with some new members. Let's just hope they pick up from where they left off.
By Alan Betrock The Rock Marketplace no.6 July 1974

Then came The Jook, whose story has been recounted in these pages over the last few issues. Basically Chris Townsen formed the group, and John Hewlett managed and produced them. Whether consciously or not, the group image-wise and music-wise was a 1970's version of John's Children---short hair; matching mod clothes; driving guitar-drums music; and teenage rebellion lyrics. But the Jook, like John's Children, never caught on in a big way (although they did release 5 singles within a year, just like John's Children) and in May of this year, after recording their acclaimed new single "Bish Bash Bosh", the Jook split up. Two Jook-ers joined Sparks, but now after a few weeks in limbo, the Jook have reformed anew and the personnel seems to have been finalized. It is: Chris Townsen (ex-John's Children-drums); Martin Gordon (ex-Sparks-bass); David O'List (ex-Nice-guitar); and yes, folks, Andy Ellison (ex-John's Children) on lead vocals!!! If this band can stay together and get some money behind them, the musical results are endlessly fascinating. With a slew of new bands, (Cockney Rebel, Sparks, Arrows, etc) making serious and important inroads in the British music scene, the new Jook stands and excellent chance of making it. The talent, creativity, and experience are all there, that's for sure…
By Alan Betrock from John's Children Article in The Rock Marketplace no.6 July 1974


Greg Shaw on The Hudson Brothers, PRM 1975


THE HUDSON BROTHERS -"Lonely School Year"- Rocket 40464
It seems to me that if American kids wanted something like the Bay City Rollers, they would have picked up on the Hudson Brothers by now. They're a little older, but they're cuter, and they make equally appealing pop records. In fact, England could use them too. Particularly this record, their concession to the disco beat and a radical change from their usual wham-bam approach. The subject matter is refreshingly wholesome (I, for one, prefer to hear sex discussed in romantic metaphors rather than in graphic detail--at least in a pop record; that's what I always liked about the Troggs ) and surely there must be a couple million kids out there who would find this record enormously relevant to their condition.
By Greg Shaw - Jukebox Jury column, PRM Nov. 1975

Martin Cerf on The Hudson Brothers, PRM 1975

The Hudson Brothers - Ba-Fa (Rocket/ MCA 2169)
By Martin Cerf - Phonograph Record Magazine, Nov. 1975

Some close friends of mine in FM radio are going to look at the heading above and be real put off. I can hear Ed Sciaky over at WMMR-FM in Philadelphia saying, "The Hudson Brothers? Forget it, Marty." And while I would never punish him for his love affair with Yes and the other cerebral-rock splinter bands which have emerged from that same act over the last couple years, I still can't understand why fine two, and three part harmonies such as the Hudsons serve unfailingly isn't universally accepted in the circles Ed moves in. Vocal greatness when combined with relevant lyric seems to remain a West Coast indulgence, occasionally Anglo.

The Hudson Brothers, originally from Seattle (the city that gave us Paul Revere & The Raiders, Don & The Goodtimes and The Ventures too), have recently teamed up with former Beach Boy Bruce Johnston (co-writer of the Hudson's recent hit "Rendezvous") and his influence on Ba-Fa is clear and essential throughout. Especially on "Oh Gabriel" and "Lonely School Year," both would have fit nicely on The Beach Boys' Friends from 1968.

This is the Hudsons' fourth album, their first since Totally Out Of Control (Rocket/MCA 460) which tracks easily from start to finish. Nothing unpleasant on this release like "The Adventures of Chuckie Margolis," a six minute, incredibly boring narrative from last year's Hollywood Situation (Casablanca 9008). Ba-Fa was produced by Bernie Taupin (he worked on Out Of Control) and marks the band's return to Elton's Rocket Records label. (Rocket is a record manufacturing outlet which with the help of Neil Sedaka, Kiki Dee and Nigel Olsson is developing a reputation among record collectors as the Amy-Mala-Bell of the seventies. All Rocket releases are mandatory pop-library inclusions.) More than just records, Rocket's chief product is fun, and the Hudsons certainly service that market. But, dear reader, there's no need to be afraid of the concept. Even though their Saturday morning CBS-TV show of this summer past was a maze of corny, silly skits you'll find this release neither embarrassing or offensive even to cynical ears. The Hudsons would like nothing more than to blitz the entire media (TV /radio/records/films) simultaneously, but they've been making fine pop records too long to do so at the expense of an individual release. Ba-Fa is a convincing effort on the band's part, and does indeed demonstrate their high pop intelligence quotient.

At times The Hudsons can match the soft-crimson sweetness of Abbey Road period Beatles and then change gears into Good Vibrations era Beach Boys, and back again ("Bernie Was A Friend Of Ours"). The string arrangements by Bob Alcivar are highly crafted and work remarkably well throughout the album, especially on "Bernie." The songs here are brief (averaging 3:30) but the time is allocated with skillful precision. Ba-Fa is obviously the first real Hudson Brothers album (as opposed to a compilation of single sides) for this act that has been recording polished pop since 1967 under a bargain-basement full of names (My Sirs, New Yorkers, Everyday Hudson, Hudson).

The Hudsons have surely mastered the complicated art of simplicity and not since Straight Up by Badfinger and Rundgren's Something/Anything has it been so pleasing.

Greg Shaw on Badfinger, PRM 1974



Badfinger
Badfinger (Warner Bros.)
Ass (Apple)
By Greg Shaw - Phonograph Record Magazine, Jan 1974

Two Badfinger albums in one month! What more could a fan ask for after a two year drought? If only it were so... actually, the fans will be asking plenty, and Badfinger has a lot to answer for, because these two mediocre albums are already one of the biggest disappointments of the new year.

Let's start with the Apple album. Nobody knows why it exists. It was never explained why Badfinger mysteriously stopped recording right after "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day", the two biggest smashes of their career, when Nilsson was hot with their song "Without You" and it seemed they were on the verge of becoming truly huge. The most believable story I heard was that they were just sick of Apple, and waiting for their contract to expire. Maybe somehow they were forced to put out one more album before ending the relationship, but how stupid to have it come out the same time as their first release on Warners!

If the Warners album were any good, it would have nothing to fear from the Apple one. Ass sounds like what it probably is, a collection of out-takes and practice tapes. There is a rough, unfinished aura about the album and a lack of really distinctive touches even in the best songs that goes against everything we've come to expect from this polished band. Once known for their exquisitely crafted singles, the best they could do here was "Apple Of My Eye", easily their worst single ever. My choice would have been "When I Say", but that's no big deal. One thing's sure: there's no three or four hit singles on this album -especially not the eight minute "Timeless"!

There are always excuses to make for a bad last album. Not so when you've taken over a year putting together your debut album for a new label. And actually, 'The Warners album is a bit more encouraging. "I Miss You" is an engaging McCartney-esque ballad, "Shine On" and "Love is Easy" make for tolerable listening, "Why Don't We Talk" almost makes it, and "Island" would be really good if it weren't so aimless. That seems to be their problem throughout the album melodies and song structures .are simply not as strong as could be, so that songs like "Where Do We Go From Here?" and "Lonely You" emerge as pleasant where they might, with some effort, have been as striking as the group's previous work.

Once we've faced the fact that Badfinger has not given us a proper sequel to No Dice and Straight Up, it's possible to derive considerable enjoyment from this album. Most of the songs are very nice; only "Matted Spam", which sounds like Buddy Miles, can actually be called bad. This is a good example of minor Beatlerock, definitely worth having, but nothing Grapefruit didn't do as well four years ago. And that's the shame of it, because I was really counting on Badfinger to bridge the gap between mere Beatle stuff and a new level of pop altogether. I believed that they, of all the groups who were trying, had it in them. And maybe they do. But the proof of that will have to come later - if Badfinger can manage to survive the double blow to their career these albums unfortunately represent. For what it's worth, I'm still hoping.

Mike Saunders on Blue Ash, PRM 1974



Blue Ash by Mike Saunders - Phonograph Record Magazine, Jan. 1974

You remember Blue Ash. They put out an album last year that all the critics loved. It was sort of Beatle-Byrdsish, yet quite original in its way, and full of what those who are supposed to know would swear were extraordinarily commercial songs. Yet like other such albums by groups such as Big Star, the Wackers, Stories and the Raspberries, it was totally ignored by radio and the majority of the record-buying public. Stories was lucky enough to score a left-field hit single, but even that didn't draw attention to their other songs, and the rest of the groups have not done so well. In fact with the exception of Blue Ash, they've all broken up or regrouped. How long can Blue Ash survive?

So great bands, bands that might've become the Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys of this decade, are forced to grovel in local bar circuits. Maybe that will turn out to be a good thing, in the long run. At least it makes us all the more thankful when a group like the New York Dolls manages a brief breakthrough. For Blue Ash, the breakthrough may never come, but if it doesn't it won't be for lack of talent. Their story could be taken as one of the classic object lessons of our time.



The big question here: Can Blue Ash sell records? That was the topic of discussion during part of Mercury's recent semi-annual sales meeting, according to A&R man Paul Nelson. "Bearing in mind how few copies Blue Ash's album sold, I was a bit apprehensive that the group might be dropped from the label without further discussion," explained Nelson, the man who discovered Blue Ash in a pile of unsolicited demo tapes. "So I was quite frankly surprised, to say the least, when a full two hours were spent discussing the group's music, their future, their strengths and weaknesses"

The decision reached was that Blue Ash will get one more single... If the 45 shows some action, the group then gets to put out a second album (already recorded). If the single flops, Blue Ash will be dropped - and their recording career quite possibly finished before it's even off the ground. Not even a second LP in the tradition of ex-Phonogram stars Bull Angus and Sir Lord Baltimore. Nothing. Nada.

Actually, seeing as how the first album didn't put Blue Ash over, it's unlikely that the second one would either, unless given a N. Y. Dolls-type push. After hearing the rough tapes a few times, it strikes one as less flashy, less immediately familiar than No More No Less - but still good enough to indicate that this is a good, potentially great, group. Curiously, there's only one loud, flashy Mod-ish rocker, "Start All Over Again." The other stand out songs are much less visceral than the bulk of No More, No Less, rocking moderately while stressing melody rather than raw energy.

After being praised as having the guts their fellow Ohioians the Raspberries lacked; it's really kind of surprising to see Blue Ash switching to a lightweight pop emphasis; while the Raspberries have gotten a new bass guitarist and drummer and claim that their next LP will be "very Who-influenced" (they ought to know - Eric Carmen's late 60's group Cyrus Erie used to regularly perform a 14-song Who medley!). But Blue Ash's new stuff is nice anyway. "Halloween Girl" and "With You On My Mind" would sound super on a jukebox at 45 RPM - remember the naivete of "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You"? Three cuts are pretty weak (especially the Berry-influenced "Rock On, Rock And Roller"), indicating that Blue Ash need someone to whip their ensemble sound into shape, a sound engineer who knows what he's doing, and more variation in shading and arrangement from song to song.

What they don't need is the scenario of being dropped from Mercury, turned down by the remaining majors, and finding that they'll have to remain dependent upon their Midwest bar circuit for a livelihood. On the other hand, maybe the only answer these days is to retrench back to some sort of local scene while waiting for something to change in the record biz and American popular music. It's no easy business, playing rock & roll in 1973. A couple examples come to mind: the Flamin Groovies' disastrous past two years in England, after having been turned down by every record label in the U.S. They're now considering moving to Detroit, just so they can play bars and eat regularly again. And a Bay Area group called Earthquake, dropped by A&M after two albums, who have now taken to releasing 45s on their own label, Beserkely Records. The key issue seems to be one summed up a while back by the true Dean of American Rock Critics, Mark Farner, in one word: survival.

You could blame it on lots of things. A rampant breakdown in the field of A&R for one -if you accused the majority of A&R departments of hating hard rock, you wouldn't be wrong. Paul Nelson, renowned for bringing the N.Y. Dolls and Blue Ash to Mercury, knows a lot about the frustrations of battling the inertia everywhere. He had to put his job on the line to get the Dolls, was vetoed by his higher-ups on Elliott Murphy, and ditto with Christopher Bell (the spark behind Big Star's LP and an excellent songwriter). So I asked Nelson, do you ever get frustrated, feel like you're banging your head against a wall, don't you ever just want to grab one of those balding rock-hating company executives by the collar? No answer. So you can imagine what Blue Ash feel like when they can't even find their album on the racks in their home town.

Song on MGM

Song: "Like We Were Before"/"Sugar Lady"; MGM 14157

And speaking of Curt Boettcher, how could we let a Discoveries column go by without the mention of another Boettcher effort? This time it's Song on MGM, a group that featured Mickey Rooney's son. These two sides were produced by Curt and Keith Olsen, and are quite delightful. "Like We Were Before" is the real standout sounding like Badfinger, the Nazz and Merry-Go-Round all rolled into one. Strong melody, excellent vocals and fine instrumentation throughout. "Sugar Lady" is a bit heavier, without any real melody to hook you, but there still are a couple of nice touches. Look for the review of the Song Lp in these pages next issue!
- Alan Betrock, The Rock Marketplace no.4 December 1973


"Like We Were Before" is a perfect song and a perfect record - a mix of heavy guitars and melody with tremendous phased drumming. Just like the Nazz, Song was a band of Anglophile Americans playing powerpop before there was such a thing. That makes "Like We Were Before" both behind the times and ahead of the times.

I don't think Alan Betrock ever got around to reviewing the Song Lp in TRM. I had the single for a year or so before I found the Lp. The first time I brought it home, I had such high expectations, hoping for an album's worth of "Like We Were Before". What I found was closer to an album's worth of "Sugar Lady" - not horrible, but much too wanky. Apparently, this is one of the productions that Curt Boettcher did under duress. He was under contract as a producer, and was doing this album to pay the rent. The good news is that "Like We Were Before" is on it. But so is "Sugar Lady". I shelved the album, thinking Song was only good for one song on one side of one single. Mickey Rooney Jr. was the main songwriter and singer as well as rhythm guitar player. I don't know if this was a vanity project for a Hollywood brat or what.

I came back to the album a year later, though. I found a really cool song called "Eat Fruit" that sounds like an early John Lennon solo track, kind of like one of those Hudson Brothers songs where they sound more like Lennon than he did at the time. There's also a track called "Whenever I Think Of You" that is really catchy and melodic - a mellow Merseybeat sound for the 70's, again like what the Hudson Brothers, the Wackers, Badfinger and Rockin' Horse were doing. The tracks I thought were awful before aren't that bad after all. "Banana High Moon" is really melodic and has great harmonies inbetween frantic bongo-handclap breaks. "10 x 10" is sort of a husky Creedence boogie with some nice jangly Badfinger guitar. On a whole, the first side is great.

Some overly husky vocals on "I'm Not Home", which has a bit of an English Isles folk sound like Fairport Convention. "Wife" is a beautifully understated ballad, like Bread or Paul McCartney's "Mother Nature's Son". "Sugar Lady" and "Meatgrinder" are unexceptional midtempo rockers and "Medicine Man" is a progressive jazz-rock jam complete with a drum solo. So that make's 3 great tracks, 3 good ones and 4 duds. I've read that Mickey Rooney Jr. made some solo records later on. Has anyone out there heard 'em?


Song - Album Lp - MGM SE-4714

Clark Garman: Lead Guitar
Mickey Rooney Jr.: Rhythm Guitar
Rob Lewine: Bass
Shelly Silverman: Drums

Side One
10 x 10 2:28
(Garman - McDonald)
Like We Were Before 2:05
(Rooney Jr. - Covington)
Eat Fruit 2:28
(Garman - McDonald)
Whenever I Think Of You 2:06
(Rooney Jr. - Blanchard)
Banana High Noon 6:00
(Garman - Rooney Jr.)

Side Two

I'm Not Home 3:42
(Rooney Jr. - Sardo)
Wife 1:42
(Rooney Jr.)
Sugar Lady 2:45
(Garman - Rooney Jr. - McDonald)
Meatgrinder 2:58
(Garman - Rooney Jr. - McDonald)
Medicine Man 7:19
(Garman)

Produced by Curt Boettcher &
Keith Olsen for Portofino Productions

A&R Coordinator: Michael Lloyd
Recorded at Sound City