Little Tibia & the Fibias – The Mummy!

Example

Little Tibia & the Fibias

Listen – Little Tibia & the Fibias – The Mummy – MP3

Greetings all.
I wasn’t planning on posting again this week, but I got my hands on something cool and couldn’t let Halloween pass without posting it.
I’ve been a fan of Rankin & Bass’s ‘Mad Monster Party’ since I was a kid, when it was an annual event of sorts on Channel 5 in NYC.
Back in the day, when I was hanging out on the pageboy, fuzztone, granny glasses scene, I began to notice on part of that movie in particular (and if you scope out the picture above, you’ll know why).
Right there, in the middle of ‘Mad Monster Party’, was a smoking number by what I consider to be the greatest ‘fake’ band of all time, Little Tibia and the Fibias.
When I say “fake band” I refer only to the fact that the band was created especially for the movie (and the fact that the ‘band’ we’re referring to is in fact an animated/reanimated group of skeletal punks). There’s obviously a real band making the music. Unfortunately – aside from vague, unsourced rumors that Rex Garvin and the Mighty Cravers may have been involved – the identity of the real life performers has been buried in the sands of time.
That, my friends, is a goddamn shame, because as will be demonstrated when you extract the ones and zeros from the interwebs, ‘The Mummy’ is a wild ass-kicker of the first order.
You get the pounding drums, the combo organ, and a vocal that sounds like the singers were good and drunk.
And the words!

“Mad mummy dance!
He’s in a trance!
All wrapped up in himself tonight!
It’s the mummy!’

Oh, hell yes!
If this was a real 45, recorded by a “real” band, people would be kicking each other to death trying to get their hands on a copy. As it stands, the only place this was ever released was on the soundtrack to ‘Mad Monster Party’. ‘The Mummy’ is so good that I’ve often considered taking it and having a dub plate made to DJ with.
For now, just download, pop the song on the MP3 delivery system of your choice, and let it rip.
Happy Halloween.

Peace
Larry

Example

Buy Mad Monster Party DVD at Amazon.com

Buy Mad Monster Party Soundtrack at Amazon.com

PS Head over to Funky16Corners

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Iron Leg Digital Trip #18 – Pop Go the 60s!

Example

The Holy Mackerel and Paul Williams (bottom)

Playlist
Free Design – Bubbles (Project 3)
New Breed – Live for Today (Canterbury)
Southwest FOB – Rock’n’roll Woman (Hip)
Beethoven Soul – Walking Through the Streets of My Mind (Dot)
Clique – Holiday (White Whale)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – If I Were a Carpenter (Imperial)
Rotary Connection – Soul Man (Cadet)
New Vaudeville Band – There’s a Kind of Hush (Fontana)
Roger Nicholls and the Small Circle of Friends – Can I Go (A&M)
1910 Fruitgum Company – Blue Eyes and Orange Skies (Buddah)
Gary Walker & the Rain – The Sun Shines (Shanghai)
The Holy Mackerel – The Secret of Pleasure (Reprise)
The Association – Goodbye Forever (WB)
Nilsson – River Deep Mountain High (RCA)

Listen/Download 71MB Mixed MP3

Download 54MB ZIP File-

Greetings all.
The weekend is done, and I have returned with yet another edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast.
This time out we cast a rather broad net, pulling all manner of 60s sounds, the only connective tissue being the sound of pop.
There are a couple of true obscurities (working the Now Sound/Sunshine Pop side of the street), a few interesting, little heard cover tunes (something of a specialty of the house) and hopefully a number of pleasant surprises.
Over the last 40 years, with the rise of the “rock snob” ethos, the term pop has become both a pejorative, and at the fringes has seen itself redefined (or at least narrowed), becoming the purvey of specialists.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip certainly addresses ‘pop’ in a positive sense, and takes a side trip or two down unusual avenues.
Things get started with one of my favorite tunes, by one of my favorite 60s groups, the Free Design. Formed in the mid-60s by Chris Dedrick, his brother Bruce and sisters Sandy and Ellen, the Free Design crafted some of the most delicate, complex, pure pop (as in the sound, not as in popular) music ever recorded. They had a knack for mixing intricate harmonies with exquisite hooks and sophisticated presentation, creating music that at first glance seems almost naïve, that after closer examination reveals itself to be much more. ‘Bubbles’ appeared on their 1970 LP ‘Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love’, and is a perfect, compact summary of all that was great about the group. They mix jazzy vocals, with a vaguely funky backdrop (those drums are actually quite snappy), laying an almost impossibly bright sound over bittersweet lyrics.
During the course of their five year career they only hit the charts once, in 1967, and then only the Adult Contemporary chart. Listening to them today, it’s a mystery why they weren’t more successful. This may have had something to do with the fact that almost all of their albums were recorded for Easy-meister Enoch Light’s Project 3 label (also home to later stuff by the Critters), and that they may have been too cute for their own good (though there were certainly any number of groups as twee that managed to occupy the charts during their existence).
The next cut is by an obscure California group called the New Breed. ‘Live For Today’ is from their rare album on the Canterbury label (also home to the Yellow Balloon and the Peanut Gallery), and is a nice bit of light, folky rock.
The Southwest F.O.B. have appeared in this space before with their best known track, a cover of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s ‘Smell of Incense’. The track in this mix is another cover, this time of the Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Rock’n’Roll Woman’. The tune appeared on their sole LP, recorded for the Stax subsidiary HIP Records. The group takes the tune a slightly heavier pace than the original, with some great backward taped drums, and a nice guitar rave up toward the end. Two members of the group went on to have a number of hits as England Dan and John Ford Coley.
Though I’ve had their album for more than 20 years, I’ve never been able to track down any information on the Beethoven Soul. Their stuff was a mix of lighter, bubblegumy pop, with occasional detours into bits of Sunset Strip pop-psyche. ‘Walking Down the Streets of My Mind’ is an example of the latter.
The Clique were best known for their original version of ‘Superman’, covered two decades later by none other than R.E.M.. Their cover of the Bee Gees ‘Holiday’ is a little lighter than the original (the Bee Gees had a real knack for creating incredibly sad sounding love songs), but still very interesting.
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich are best known for the many Freakbeat classics in their catalog. Their cover of Tim Hardin’s ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ was the highlight of their 1968 LP ‘Time to Take Off’. Though the LP included two of their biggest hits (‘Zabadak’ and ‘The Legend of Xanadu’), I find that it mostly pales in comparison to their harder material. The sole exception is their reading of ‘…Carpenter’, which takes the subdued vibe of the original and lays a few sticks of dynamite (and an orchestra) under it.
Next up is possible the weirdest cover of a soul tune I’ve ever heard. The Rotary Connection were one of the most interesting groups of the 60s, mixing soul, pop and psychedelia on several albums for the Cadet label. Featuring the vocals of both Minnie Ripperton and Sidney Barnes (a frequent collaborator with George Clinton), they took a baroque and often iconoclastic approach to cover material. Their version of Sam and Dave’s ‘Soul Man’ is almost unrecognizable, presented as a moog-ed out madrigal, and is so far out that it ends up making a kind of twisted sense.
The New Vaudeville Band was one of the more successful novelty acts of the late 60s with the huge hit ‘Winchester Cathedral’. I had their album on a shelf for years before I pulled it out and saw that alongside their various trad-jazz styled tunes, they had done (what I thought was) a cover of Herman’s Hermits ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’. Oddly enough, when I looked deeper, it appears that they may have recorded the song first. The tune’s composer, Geoff Stephens was the mastermind behind the NVB, and they recorded a couple of songs that would later turn up on HH LPs. ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’ has been a favorite song of mine since I was a little kid and my father had the sheet music (with a pic of HH) in the piano bench.
Roger Nichols and a Small Circle of Friends are one of the more interesting stories in the world of Sunshine Pop. Nichols spent much of the mid-60s working as a songwriter and producer of smooth, “easy” pop like the Sandpipers. He formed Small Circle of Friends and recorded a rare LP for A&M. That self-titled LP is much like a lighter version of what happened with Curt Boettcher and Gary Usher in Sagittarius. Nichols brought together a number of LA heavy hitters (including Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks) to create an album that is an unusual cross between light, easy pop and more progressive sounds. The finest example of that mixture is the vaguely psyche-y ‘Can I Go’. Not long after he recorded this LP, Nichols paired up with none other than Paul Williams (who appears later in this mix) to write a number of big hits, including ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ for the Carpenters. The Nichols-Williams collaboration also produced what I consider to be one of the great lost pop albums, Williams’ 1971 ‘Someday Man’. The album was written entirely by Williams and Nichols, and includes a version of another favorite song of mine ‘Trust’, also recorded by the Peppermint Trolley Company.
Next up is a very unusual tune by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. ‘Blue Eyes and Orange Skies’ manages to namecheck songs by Jimi Hendrix, Love and the Doors in a bit of psyche-pop that sounds out of place (but very cool) next to songs like ‘1-2-3 Red Light’ and ‘Simon Says’.
Gary Walker is best remembered as the drummer for the Walker Brothers. During the waning years of that group, he formed his own band, Gary Walker and the Rain, recording a few singles and one truly amazing (and incredibly rare) album of psychedelia. ‘The Sun Shines’ is probably the least psychedelic song on ‘Album No. 1’. Rain member Joey Molland went on to join Badfinger.
The Holy Mackerel – if they’re remembered at all – are known as the first group to include Paul Williams. They recorded one excellent – and largely forgotten – LP for the Reprise label in 1968. ‘The Holy Mackerel’ is a wonderful example of the mixture of pop, folk rock, country and psychedelia that was all over Los Angeles toward the end of the 60s. ‘The Secret of Pleasure’ is one of the trippier cuts from the album, which has been reissued as a budget CD.
The Association are an interesting case of a group that had a fairly large amount of popular success, yet never really got the respect the deserved. The last decade or so has seen quite a bit of revision in this regard, thanks in large part to appreciations of the group by modern fans. ‘Goodbye Forever’ was originally composed as the theme for the film ‘Goodbye Columbus’. When it was turned down, the group retitled the tune and included it on their self-titled 1969 LP.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip closes out with a great version of Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep Mountain High’, as recorded by none other than Harry Nilsson. Nilsson originally recorded the tune for his 1967 debut ‘Pandemonium Shadow Show’. This version of the song come from what may very well be the first ‘remix’ album ever released, Nilsson’s 1971 ‘Aerial Pandemonium Ballet’, which took material from his first two RCA albums and reworked it to varying degrees. Here Nilsson takes the Wall of Sound vibe and adds his own unique vibe. I think it’s brilliant.
I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll see you all next week.

Peace
Larry
Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a remembrance of the late, great Merl Saunders.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Them – Mystic Eyes

Example

HARP + LAGER= Van (not Harp Lager)

Example

Listen – Them – Mystic Eyes – MP3

Greetings all.
I don’t know if you’re ready for the weekend, but after two days at home nursing a two year old with the chicken pox, I surely am.
In furtherance of such preparation, and in a continuation of sorts of the R&Beat vibe from Monday’s post (though today’s selection hails not from England but from my ancestral homeland of Ireland), I bring you one of the ass-kickingest, most blueswailing, proto-garage records ever recorded.
I remember very clearly the night when I came into possession of this record. More than 20 years ago, a pal of mine from work told me his (much) older brother* had a few boxes of records in his Mom’s basement, and I was welcome to them if I wanted.
As you might have imagined, I am not one to turn up my nose at free vinyl, so naturally I said I’d like to have a look.
When he brought the boxes up from the basement, I was struck by an initial wave of dismay, as every single album looked as if it had spent time at the bottom of the local boat basin. There was much water damage, but since the records were free, and there were a couple of gems in the box (mostly original rock LPs covering 1964 to 1967).
I got the records home and started cleaning the vinyl. The covers were by and large destroyed (I ended up tossing a few of them out of fears for my respiratory health), but most of the records were salvageable.
I was gassed when I saw a Them album in the box, and especially so when I saw that it included one of my top five records of all time (the OG version of ‘Gloria’). When I finally dropped the needle on ‘Mystic Eyes’ I was blown away.
If you’re one of those poor slobs whose exposure to Van Morrison is limited to the weird ramblings of the past few decades, then the pure power of ‘Mystic Eyes’ will come as a revelation.
Though I also ride for his mid-period Warner Brothers stuff (like ‘Astral Weeks’ and ‘St Dominic’s Preview’) I have to say that nothing he ever did, no matter how deep, comes within 100 miles of the intensity evidenced on his recordings with Them.
‘Mystic Eyes’ (and much of the rest of the band’s first two albums) is no less than explosive. I can only imagine that Them weren’t bigger over here because they were either too rough (they sound MEAN), or because their lead singer looked like a leprechaun with a bad attitude (or maybe both). I suppose you can take into account any stereotypes about Northern Ireland being a bleak place, but this record is the aural equivalent of a Guinness-fueled back-alley punch-up.
The song starts like a runaway train, with Morrison’s harmonica and Pete Bardens’ organ pumping wildly, with some powerful guitar riffing (maybe Jimmy Page?), before the vocals come in like a boot to the ribs. Powerful stuff, not to be taken in by the faint of heart, especially people who only think of Van the man as the soft focus, caftan wearing, gentle soul on the cover of ‘His Band and Street Choir’.
It was certainly a long way from Belfast to Marin County, and ‘Mystic Eyes’ is a souvenir from the beginning of that journey.
See you on Monday with a new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip.

Peace
Larry

*A brother who used to make me jealous with tales of having seen the Buffalo Springfield in concert…

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Dave Davani Four – Tossin’ and Turnin’

Example

The Dave Davani Four (Davani, lower right)

Example

Listen – The Dave Davani Four – Tossin’ and Turnin’ – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend (I know I did).
Despite a serious lack of sleep, the fall weather was extraordinary, and probably provided the lift I needed after a tremendously stressful week.
Today’s selection is a perfect example of the kind of things that hide on log ignored b-sides, discovered only after several return trips to the crates.
I first heard about Dave Davani via my mentor on all things, British beat (R&, Freak and other), Mr. Luther. My interest was initially piqued via Davani’s ‘The Jupe’, one of the swingingest, smokingest bits of UK based Hammond I’d ever heard. It was a while (again via Mr. Luther) that I obtained my very own copy of that 45, which I wrote up and posted over at Funky16Corners back in the Blogger days. (almost three years ago). I’ll refer you to that post for more of the pertinent details.
However, though I’m sure I flipped the record over when I first got it, I gave it a pass – probably not listening to the whole thing – simply because it wasn’t an instrumental (kind of like buying a DaVinci and ignoring the other side of the page because it was occupied with an original drawing by Dr. Seuss).
So, I was rifling through the crates recently, attempting to re-file a large number of misplaced organ 45s, and when I came across the Dave Davini Four record, decided to give its neglected side another spin.
Good thing I did too, because while the group’s cover of Bobby Lewis’ ‘Tossing and Turning’ isn’t as brilliant as ‘The Jupe’ (which is an apples/oranges comparison anyway), what it is, is a rollicking slice of UK R&Beat, with a Georgie Fame cum Spencer Davis cum any dozen other organ-led combos vibe that doesn’t let up from the run-in to the run-off. All that, and the fact that Davani gets the chance to pull out the stops on a nice little solo about halfway in.
Good stuff, and I hope you dig it.
I’ll be back later in the week with something groovy.

Peace
Larry

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for new mix of Hammond organ killers!.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Big Star – O My Soul

Example

Radio City-era Big Star

Example

Listen – Big Star – O My Soul – MP3

Greetings all.
As is often the case in my little corner of the blog-o-mosphere, the tunes I select for inclusion therein are often picked at random, the result of yet another safari into the crates. I’ve discussed the phenomenon before, but so vast is the selection of vinyl piled in my lair, that I often find things I’d forgotten, or forsaken having assumed that they were forever lost.
The tune I bring you today was just such a record.
But first, a nostalgic interlude…
Back in the day, when my brothers* (blood and otherwise) were being inundated with sounds alternative (back when that really meant something), there were a few bands from the days of yore that were for youngsters like ourselves (and many before us) cornerstones of an even earlier alternative.
This list included such rediscoveries as the Sonics and the 13th Floor Elevators (on the garage/psyche tip) and most prominently (on a much larger scale), and most importantly to the formation of my own musical worldview, the Velvet Underground and Big Star.
Now, the Velvets had – thanks to the long and successful career of Lou Reed – a foot placed firmly in the present. I forget who said that everyone who bought a Velvets LP in the 60s went on to form a band, but that particular equation was multiplied exponentially in the 80s where no band from the 60s loomed larger.
Big Star was another story entirely.
Though Alex Chilton was something of an indie darling, no one sane would describe his post-Box Tops career as having seen any financial success. That said, in the 1980s the ears of anyone with even the tiniest bit of pop sensibility were filled with the music Chilton created with Big Star.
Formed in 1971 by Chris Bell, Andy Hummell, Steve Ray and Jody Stephens. Ray soon left the band and was replaced by Chilton. They were signed to the Stax Records subsidiary Ardent, and released their first album, ‘#1 Record’ in 1972.
If you haven’t heard ‘#1 Record’, back away from the interwebs (or open a new browser) and find yourself a copy, because – and you can trust me on this – it is one of the finest pop records ever recorded, by anyone, anywhere. That record, in which all but one of the songs were collaborations between Chilton and Bell (rife with Lennon/McCartney-esque creative tension) was the only one recorded by that line up.
By the time they released their follow up ‘Radio City’ in 1973, Bell had departed, along with a certain amount of their polish, which as we shall see, was a good thing, because that albums spontaneous feel was something of a shot heard round the world (with about a ten year delay) appearing a decade on in the sounds of REM and the Replacements among others.
Today’s selection is the only OG Big Star record I’ve ever come across in the field, and if memory serves was scooped up for chump change in an old record store.
‘O My Soul’ opens with wild, shambolic rhythm guitar, laced with bits of keyboard stabbing through the somewhat awkward beat. Chilton’s vocal is spot on (though if all you’ve ever heard him sing was ‘The Letter’, you might be surprised). The song sounds every bit as fresh today as it must have in ’73, which is probably a testament to the band’s far reaching influence (though I suspect that so much time has passed that there are tons of bands out there working a Big Star vibe who have never heard of Alex Chilton or Chris Bell).
It’s a great bit of power pop, and as I said before, if you’re not already hep to Big Star, go out and get you some.
See you on Monday.

Peace
Larry

*In 1990, my brother Chris and I took a road trip down south, mainly to visit friends in Georgia, but including stops in Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis. A big part of our Memphis visit was a pilgrimage to Ardent Studios, where we saw the very Big Star supermarket that inspired the bands name.

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some Southern Soul.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again

Example

John Kongos

Example

Listen – Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope that all is well as we get going on a new week.
I spent the weekend pretty much just being exhausted and worried that I was coming down with something, which I kind of was, but instead of it being a cold or a virus or some such, I was coming down with too much shit to do and not enough energy to do it. This is of course the story of my life, but sometimes the effort to stay a step ahead of the tiredness fails and, well, here we are…
The tune I bring you today first fell by my lobes and into my brain almost 20 years ago, but it was via a cover version (which I didn’t know was a cover).
Back in the day, after my years with the garage revival scene were on the wane, but before I dove headfirst into jazz, I spent a lot of time listening to one of the all time great radio stations, WHTG-FM in Eatontown, NJ.
It was on WHTG that I first heard traces of the Madchester sound, that being the end result of a bunch of musicians in the UK getting their hands on handfuls of ecstacy and the beat from James Brown’s ‘Funky Drummer’ and raving themselves to international prominence. This scene included the Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses, Charlatans UK, 808 State and the band that covered today’s song, Happy Mondays.
It’s important to note that what appealed to me about the Madchester vibe was a certain lysergic component. Many a psychedelic excursion in those days featured repeat plays of the long version of the Stone Roses ‘Fools Gold’. This is the same vibe that turned me on to groups like the Orb (probably the most psyched out of the trance/ambient crowd).
One of my fave records from that era was the Happy Mondays’ ‘Step On’. I forget when or where I found out that the song was a cover (no doubt in some fanzine or other), but when I did – as is always the case – I set out looking for the original.
It wasn’t too long before I tracked it down (surprisingly enough at a flea market) and when I did was surprised once again by the heaviness of the OG by John Kongos.
Kongos, a native of South African had played in and recorded with a group called Johnny and the G-Men. After moving to the UK in the mid-60s he played with the groups Floribunda Rose and Scrugg, before recording his first solo album in 1970.
Kongos recorded ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’ in 1971 and it became a Top 10 hit in the UK that same year. It was released in the US (on Elektra). Created using a tape loop of African drummers, the song bears the marks of the Glam era, with anvil heavy guitar and drums, especially when the chorus kicks in. There a certain “Come Together”-ish feel in the verse that I dig.
The Happy Monday kept the feel of Kongos’ guitar line, but lightened the feel somewhat with ringing piano and afemale backing chorus. I have a special nostalgic place in my heart for the Happy Monday’s version, but the more I play the OG, the more I prefer its heavyosity.
I hope you dig it too,and I’ll be back later in the week with some British Beat.

Peace
Larry

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some Bay Area funk.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

The Ascots – Sookie Sookie

Example

Listen – The Ascots – Sookie Sookie – MP3

Greetings all.
I promised at the beginning of the week that I’d be back with a very solid slice of garage heat. Whether I’m doing this as a matter of balance after Monday’s post (which may not have been everyone’s bag), or just because it’s a very cool record has yet to be decided.
Some months ago, during one of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, after hearing someone drop Steppenwolf’s version of ‘Sookie Sookie’, one of my fellow selectors and I were rapping about other version of the tune. I mentioned my faves (none better than the OG by Don Covay) like Tina Britt, Roy Thompson and Ricardo Ray, and he (I don’t remember who it was) mentioned that he had heard a garage punk version of the tune that was very cool (but he didn’t remember the name of the group).
So, some weeks later, I’m out trolling the interwebs in search of the vinyl, when what should show up on a very hot list of 45s, but a (maybe THE) garage punk cover of that very song. I gave the sound clip a listen, and immediately threw down a handful of shekels so that the record might soon have a home in my DJ box.
That record – the one you’re downloading/listening to today – is ‘Sookie Sookie’ as played by a pack of thugs known as the Ascots.
I haven’t been able to find much out about the Ascots, other than that they (or at least their record label) operated out of Providence, RI. Beginning in 1966, the Ascots recorded four 45s for the Super label, and all but one of them included a soul cover (Midnight Hour, Knock On Wood and Sookie Sookie).
I wouldn’t describe the Ascots version of ‘Sookie Sookie’ as soulful, but I will say that they definitely tapped into the manic energy of the Covay original, doing their shambolic, reverbed best to beat the song into aubmission. Like many garage punk records of the time, this one sounds haunted by the spirit of ‘Gloria’ with a rhythm guitarist who sounds like his musical education started and finished with the two chords in the song (which if you haven’t yet caught my drift, is a good thing).
This is a very solid example of why people chase down and worship garage punk 45s. There’s a whole lot of spirit trapped in those grooves.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back next week.
Peace
Larry

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a very hot Hammond funk 45.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Brenda Lee – The Crying Game

Example

Miss Brenda Lee

Example

Listen – Brenda Lee – The Crying Game – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end.
Last week started off with the Nashville Teens post, wherein I gave a tip of the hat to Mack at Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye for turning me on to that particular record.
This will be the second week where I have to thank the man, for helping to solve a mystery I’d been wondering about for a long time.
Like most people (at least in the US) I heard the song ‘The Crying Game’ for the first time when it was covered by Boy George. It wasn’t too long after that when I tracked down a copy of the original version of the song by Dave Berry.
Though he’s not well known here in the States, Berry was very popular in the UK and Europe through the 60s. His version of ‘The Crying Game’ also has the added benefit of a very cool flip side in ‘Don’t Gimme No Lip Child’, a fine bit of Beat punk that features (like so many great records) the guitar of Jimmy Page (and will soon be featured here).
Flash forward a few years, and my father-in-law (bless his heart) brings me down a haul of something like 3500 45s, which I spent the better part of a summer digging through. Though I pulled a grip of soul, funk, garage and beat 45s out (some to sell/trade, most to keep, natch) I had a couple of stacks of curiosities put aside for future exploration. The record I bring you today was in one of those piles.
Brenda Lee hit the charts a few dozen times between 1957 and the mid-70s. Hers is a great example of a career that got its start in rock’n’roll (with some very hot, almost rockabilly sides) and ended up in country, with a major stop at the Christmas station with the perennial ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’. Aside from a bunch of appearances on the Nashville Network in the 80s, and hearing ‘Rockin’ Around…’ every holiday season, I hadn’t given Brenda Lee much thought.
Until, that is, I pulled today’s selection out of a huge pile of vinyl.
By the time I pulled out Brenda Lee’s version of ‘The Crying Game’ I was probably on my third run-through, working my way through stuff that didn’t catch my eye previously, and looking it up in record guides. The title of the song caught my eye, but I didn’t think it could be the same tune. Imagine my surprise when I popped it on the portable turntable and realized that it was!
I already loved the song, but after four or five consecutive spins it soon became my favorite version.
Now, not long after I picked up the Dave Berry original, I also grabbed a cover of the song by Ian and the Zodiacs. They too were British, so I figured covering a Dave Berry tune wasn’t at all unusual. I posted the I & the Zs version here at Iron Leg a little over a year ago, mentioned how much I loved the Brenda Lee version, and figure I’d never be able to connect the dots.
Enter Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye…
A few weeks back, Mack mentioned to me that he had found out that (contrary to my assumptions) Ian and the Zodiacs version of ‘The Crying Game’ had been a substantial regional hit (in Texas) in 1964. Brenda Lee’s version followed in 1965. Though I know of no direct connection, it seems likely to me that it was via the Ian and the Zodiacs hit that Lee (or someone associated with her) found the song.
That all said, Brenda Lee’s recording of ‘The Crying Game’ is mind blowingly good. It should serve as a reminder as to what a powerful voice she had, as well as her ability to take on an already melodramatic song and make it even more so, without getting sappy.

This is a powerful record.

It also brings into question why this song wasn’t recorded by a woman in the first place. Though I love the other versions mentioned, once I listened to Brenda Lee work it out it suddenly seemed odd as sung by a man.

That said, I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back later in the week with some slamming garage punk.
Peace
Larry

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a mix of Philadelphia funk 45 instrumentals.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider (just updated) too…

Del Shannon – Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun)

Example

Del Shannon

Example

Listen – Del Shannon – Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun) – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end.
One of the great – false – memes about popular music is that the years between the death of Buddy Holly and the arrival of the Beatles were some kind of arid no-mans-land, bereft of quality pop music. Of course anyone with brains instead of feathers in their head knows that this is untrue. That doesn’t stop the people who create music documentaries from repeating it over and over again, ad infinitum.
Along with the usual suspects that are trotted out as examples of the depths to which pop music sunk – Bobby Rydell, Fabian et al – the charts in the early 60’s were filled with interesting and innovative music, as well as containing a variety of sounds that proves how narrow a field the pop charts are today. Soul music from Detroit and Chicago sat next to commercial folk, mainstream instrumental pop, novelty records, and jazz.
Among the rockers that made it to the charts regularly in those years, was the great Del Shannon. Beginning with ‘Runaway’ in the Spring of 1961, Shannon was a fixture in the Top 40 (in both the US and the UK) until 1965 (another casualty of the British Invasion*). Shannon was – along with Roy Orbison – an important transitional artist, modernizing the sounds of 50s rock’n’roll and influencing the more sophisticated sounds to come, not to mention that ‘Little Town Flirt’, recorded in 1962 and hitting the charts in January of 1963 sounds like a literal blueprint for much of what was to follow from the UK.
Del Shannon’s last significant hit (in late 1964) was today’s selection ‘Keep Searchin’. It was also one of his greatest.
I have to admit that although I’d known songs like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Hats Off to Larry’ (perhaps the greatest of all “Larry” songs, heh, heh…) since my childhood, it wasn’t until I picked up an import ‘Best of Del Shannon’ CD in the late 80s that I heard ‘Keep Searchin’, but when I did, I was blown away.
The tune opens with thundering guitar chords, which give way to Shannon’s impassioned vocal. The song reaches its peak in the anthemic chorus, followed by what sounds like the stomping of feet on the studio floor.
When you listen to ‘Keep Searchin’’ it seems that Shannon’s fall from fashion was more a matter of tone than because he was (like so many of his contemporaries) anachronistic. In a world of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’, Shannon’s epic tales of heartbreak were if anything a little too heavy.
Through the 60s, though Shannon was largely absent from the pop charts, he continued to record, as well as working as a producer. He was plagued by alcoholism and depression for many years, eventually committing suicide in 1990.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace
Larry

Example

*Which is ironic since he was one of the first artists to hit the charts with a Beatles cover, ‘From Me To You’ in 1963, and wrote Peter & Gordon’s hit ‘I Go To Pieces’.

PS Head over to Funky16Corners
.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider (just updated) too…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,341 other followers