The Angels – The Boy With the Green Eyes

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The Angels (Circa ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’)

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Listen/Download – The Angels – The Boy With the Green Eyes

NOTE: It was just brought to my attention that I posted the wrong MP3 link with Monday’s post. It has been corrected!

Greetings all.

The tune I bring you today is something I promised a while back when I posted another version of the same song by a group called Wool.
The tune in question is ‘The Boy With the Green Eyes’, the group singing it today is the Angels.
Yes, those Angels, the ones who sang the ne plus ultra of girl group oldies radio overkill, ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’.
When I picked up the Wool 45 and started to do some research I was very surprised to find out that the Angels had also recorded a version of the Neil Diamond-penned tune, mainly because I figured they had flamed out not long after their biggest hit in 1963, and because I couldn’t picture their sound changing quite so much.
I set out to find a copy of their version – which thankfully didn’t require much in the way of time or money – and when I got it was pleasantly surprised.
The Angels released their first 45 in 1962 for the Caprice label, and had their biggest hits in 1963 and 1964 for Smash, where they also released two LPs.
Through 1965, 1966 and 1967 they had a string of singles that ran the gamut from standard girl group pop to adult contemporary sounds (covers of ‘So Nice’ aka ‘Summer Samba’ and a medley that included the ‘Theme From a Summer Place’), none of which made a dent on the charts.
‘Boy With the Green Eyes’ was their last charting (barely) 45 from 1968, and it’s a real change of pace, straddling mainstream pop and the outer edges of pop psyche.
The Angels version of the song is – much more so than the Wool version – easily identifiable as a Neil Diamond cover, and their harmonies, mixed with a groovy arrangement (dig the acoustic guitar) makes for a very cool record.
Makes you wonder what they might have done had they continued on in a similar vein.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back next week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for insane, break-laden funkadelic action.

Mel Taylor & the Magics – Young Man Old Man

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Mel’s on there somewhere…

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Listen/Download – Mel Taylor and the Magics – Young Man Old Man

NOTE: It was just brought to my attention that I posted the wrong link when I put up this post. Here’s the right one!

Greetings all.

I hope the new week finds you all well.
I’m coming down off a most excellent weekend, during which the wife and I headed down to Atlantic City for an early celebration of our 10th anniversary. We had both mindbendingly good Japanese food, and got to see one of our favorite comedians, so it was a lot of fun.
Of course we woke up the next morning, flipped on the news in the hotel and saw the weather-people howling about how even though it had been unbearably hot, it was going to get even hotter, so we hastened home to the air conditioning and sat as still as possible so as not to break a sweat.
The tune I bring you today is something that I came upon in the most roundabout way possible. Sometime, though, that makes for the more interesting story.
A while back – as referenced at Funky16Corners – I grabbed a bootleg video of the 1960s Detroit dance party show Swingin’ Time, hosted by legendary DJ Robin Seymour.
I picked up the DVD, first and foremost because it contained footage of the mighty Jerry-O, but ended up having my mind good and blown by performances by the Magnificent Men, Wayne Cochran, the Rationals, the Elgins and others.
The other thing that grabbed my ears was the show’s theme. It sounded awfully familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I set to Googling.
I was surprised to discover that the song in question was ‘Young Man Old Man’ by Mel Taylor and the Magics.
This was surprising for a number of reasons.
First, Mel Taylor was the drummer for the Ventures, and I had no idea that he had recorded any solo material.
Second, and more importantly – at least to me – was the fact that ‘Old Man Young Man’ was first recorded by a group called the Stokes, featuring a certain Allen Toussaint (yes, THAT Allen Toussaint) on piano.
The Stokes were Toussaint’s band during his time in the Army, and recorded a number of 45s (including the original version of ‘Whipped Cream’, later famous as the theme to the Dating Game) for the ALON label during the mid-60s.
‘Old Man Young Man’ was a fave of mine in the original version (it was composed by Toussaint under the alias Naomi Neville) , and in that the track was re-used behind a Benny Spellman 45 (produced by Toussaint) called ‘The Word Game’, so I was gassed to find out that it had been covered, and in such a groovy version.
Taylor, a busy studio musician who joined the band in 1962, recorded a couple of solo albums, and ‘Young Man Old Man’ was recorded around the time of his 1966 ‘In Action’ album (but wasn’t paired with the LP until a 1996 CD reissue).
I only have the 45, but going by the flipside, and what I’ve found out, most of the material was fairly middle of the road. ‘Young Man Old Man’ is anything but, sounding like a not-too-distant cousin of Wynder K Frog’s ‘Dancing Frog’, with a pounding beat (naturally) and enough kick for the dancers, which makes its selection as the theme for a dance party show all the more logical.
How Taylor came across the song is a mystery. It wasn’t a hit, but I suppose it’s possible he picked it up on a publisher’s demo (as Toussaint had already hit as the composer of Al Hirt’s ‘Java’).
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

The World of Oz – Jack

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The World of Oz

 

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Listen/Download – The World of Oz – Jack

Greetings all.

The heat wave continues here on the East Coast, and I find myself feeling old as I explain to my six year old son that I grew up in a house without air conditioning (when such a thing was fairly common). This of course after having to detail life in a world without personal computers, DVDs in the car, iPods and on, and on, and I think I sprout a few more white hairs every time I think about it.
The strange thing (more likely ONE of the strange things) about the subject matter of this blog (and Funky16Corners) is that the vast majority of what I write about here comes from my early childhood (mostly between the ages of 2 – 1964 – and 8 – 1970), and as such has been absorbed largely in retrospective fashion.
Some of this digging has come from “digging”, i.e. heading out into the field and grabbing records of a distant vintage, and some (most of the stuff I first grooved upon during the 1980s garage/mod thing) via compilations.
In the garage realm, we’re talking about your Pebbles, Back From the Graves and those of their ilk.
On the psychedelic tip, the biggies – at least for me – were the original British Psychedelic Trip, through which I first heard any number of bands I later tracked down 45s by, like the Outer Limits, Virgin Sleep and today’s artists, the World of Oz.
Oddly enough, the first World of Oz song I ever heard was one I never really cared for a whole lot, the uber twee ‘Muffin Man. Years later, when I scored a copy of that 45, I flipped it over to find the far superior ‘Peter’s Birthday’ (featured here, scroll down to #9).
The World of Oz recorded three 45s and one LP for Deram, in many ways the UK Psyche label of record (no pun intended) in 1968 and 1969. They hailed from Birmingham in the UK, and their sound butted right up against the border that lay between psychedelia and prog.
The subject matter on their 45s was suitably whimsical, covering nursery rhymes, the world of myth and the lives of children, all well represented in the genre.
A buddy of mine runs a periodic record sale out of his garage, and family plans a few Saturdays ago put that sale in my path, so I was duty bound to stop by. I always like to prowl through his crates as I find them to be a reliable source for groovy soul jazz, but this time, in addition to a couple of funky 45s, I found (at a low price, much to my delight) the second World of Oz 45, with a picture sleeve (seen above). Like my similar find some years ago of the Timebox 45 of ‘Gone is the Sad Man’ (also with a picture sleeve) this was a Dutch issue on Deram.
As it turns out, the World Of Oz, like some of their contemporaries (like the Creation and the Equals) were more popular on the continent (especially Holland) than they were in their home country.
I’d heard the single’s a-side – the Procol Harum-esque – ‘King Croesus’ before, but the flipside (which you see before you) was new to me. When I got it home and gave it a spin, I was knocked out when the needle hit the music and the first thing I heard was a veritable sample (replayed, in the old school stylee) of Joe South’s ‘Mirror of Your Mind’. The riff isn’t exactly the same, but it’s close enough that one must have inspired the other.
That said, the song quickly departs the homage and turns into a wonderful slice of 1968 ‘child’s world’ psyche, about Jack’s trip to the playground with his grandparents. The arrangement (by Mike Vickers of Manfred Mann) is psyche-pop perfection, with great horns and strings (never over-used) and of course the wah-wah guitar of the introduction.
Very groovy indeed, and I hope you dig it.
I’ll see you on Monday.

 

 

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a storming soul 45.

Mike Sheridan’s Lot – Take My Hand

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Mike Sheridan’s Lot (Roy Wood hanging out the back window)

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Listen/Download – Mike Sheridan’s Lot – Take My Hand

Greetings all.

Welcome back to the Leg of Iron, in which we whip a little tuneage up into your earholes in the hopes that you might find it pleasing.
It was a blazingly hot and busy weekend, lots of furniture assembly and relocation so that the little ones might move into a room of their own. Aside from the fact that a bit of overzealous wire removal by yours truly knocked out our phone service, it was a success.
As I write this the boys sleep soundly on the other side of the wall.
The tune I bring you today is a great example of how ‘out of sight/out of mind’ things can get when you’re consuming music at a fast pace.
I first heard today’s selection 25 years ago, passed on to me on a mix tape by my man Mr Luther (one of the great musical prosthelytizers of our time). I dug the hell out of it then, but as is often the case, was unable to obtain my own vinyl copy, so sometime in the ensuing decades, when cassettes were either passed on to someone else or outright discarded, my only copy of Mike Sheridan’s Lot performing ‘Take My Hand’ was lost.
Until – that is – Mr Luther, now relocated securely in the digital age, was kind enough to make me a stack of mix CDs, which I promptly placed under the CD player in the car, and into rotation in my ears.
I’m about four songs into one of said discs when all of a sudden the pleasure centers of my tired brain are all snap-crackle-popping and I’m remembering how much I love this song, and all I can remember (not being able to grab the song list while driving) is that I recognize Roy Wood’s voice in the mix.
As soon as I got to the next red light, I grabbed the sleeve and see that the tune in question is (as previously mentioned) ‘Take My Hand’ by Mike Sheridan’s Lot, and proceed to replay the song at least five times until I reached my destination.
Naturally, as soon as I got home I hit the interwebs to see if I could secure myself a copy, only to discover that the record in question is not only impossibly rare but probably as expensive as most impossibly rare things of a similar quality are.
However, I found out that the tune had been comped back in the day (1983) by the food people at Edsel, kind of the precursor to companies like Sundazed, i.e. they specialized in high quality reissues of 60s music aimed at the collector market, with lots of groovy pictures and liner notes.
I procured a copy of the 30 year old reissue of the 45 year old song, and here we are.
‘Take My Hand’* is a bit of spectacular UK Beat perfection. It is propulsive (slap on the headphones and dig that bass drum), filled with hooks, harmony vocals (part of which is the voice of the young Roy Wood) and just the tiniest bit of soul woven into the chorus and the bridge.
It’s one of those records that manages to include all the standard machinery of the Beat era, yet also has that something extra that indicated that something new was on the horizon. It’s not all that far removed from some of the more progressive stuff that was starting to surface around that time, yet still has an innocence to it.
That it should have been a huge hit is without question, but as is always the case in the 64-68 time period, there was so much high quality stuff out there it was inevitable that something good was going to fall by the wayside.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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*I vaguely recall some memory of this being a cover of another band’s song, but I haven’t been able to find confirmation


PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a remembrance of organist Gene Ludwig

Hearts and Flowers – Please

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Hearts and Flowers

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Listen/Download – Hearts and Flowers – Please MP3

Greetings all.

The summer is in full gear, and though the digging, electronic and otherwise has slowed down, the backlog of that gooey, black, musical licorice is so significant that I could probably never buy another record and still have enough to keep the blog(s) going for a good long time.
That said, I did have a sweet little burst of acquisatory glee a few months back during which I scored a couple of very interesting, extremely Iron Leg-gy things, one of which I bring you today.
Having been a longtime devotee of the Californ-y 1960s sound, especially the folk rock and budding country rock sound of the Sunset Strip and the various and sundry inhabited canyons around LA, I had known of (and read about) the band Hearts and Flowers for years.
I only actually heard their music earlier this year, thanks to the efforts of my man Tommy at the Devil’s Music blog who posted a couple of tracks by the band, that later included in its ranks a young fellow named Bernie Leadon, who went on to join both the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles, making him a significant cog in the early days of the LA country rock machine.
After I heard those tracks I set out in search of some/any of their records, which proved (in the beginning) to be an unusually daunting task.
Their albums are scarce (they had no success during the bands lifetime) and when I found them they were prohibitively costly.
Then, one day I stumbled upon one of their 45s, ‘The View From Ward 3’. I met the opening bid of two-dollars and eventually won it at that price.
When the record fell through the mail slot I flipped it over and saw that the B-side was a song called ‘Please’. When I saw the name ‘Feldhouse’ in the author credits, I suspected that it might be a cover of the song of the same name by the Kaleidoscope, and when I dropped the needle on the record my suspicions were confirmed.
The Hearts and Flowers version of ‘Please’ – one of my favorite songs from the Kaleidoscope’s debut LP ‘Side Trips’ — is taken at a slightly more relaxed pace than the original, but the sound, oddly enough, is a little rougher, maybe earthier than the Kaleidoscope original.
Hearts and Flowers was formed by Larry Murray, a guitarist who played in a bluegrass combo called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, which coincidentally also featured two other up and comers by the name of Chris Hillman (as in Byrds bassist Chris Hillman!) and Bernie Leadon.
Murray was eventually joined by Rick Cunha and Dave Dawson and they recorded their first album for Capitol in 1967 (Leadon would not join the group until their second record), which included their version of ‘Please’.
The band broke up after two Lps, with Murray working as a guitarist and producer, and having his song ‘Hard To be Friends’ covered by Kris Kristofferson, Percy Sledge and the 70s comeback version of the Walker Brothers. Rick Cunha went on to play with Emmylou Harris.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’m gonna go keep looking for those LPs.
See you Monday

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some funky New Orleans soul

Tuli Kupferberg 1923-2010

I just heard the news that in addition to the loss of Harvey Pekar, founding member of the Fugs, Tuli Kupferberg has passed away at the age of 86.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my ears (and heart) for the music of the Fugs as a link between the Beat era and the freak scene of the 1960s.
Here’s a clip of the band from 1968, and a repost from earlier this year.

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The Fugs

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Listen – The Fugs – Group Grope – MP3

Originally posted January 2010

Greetings all.

Last week I was wandering around the interwebs somewhat aimlessly and I happened upon the announcement for a benefit to help the ailing Tuli Kupferberg.
If that name is unknown (or only vaguely familiar) to you, allow me to mention the group of which he was a founding member, The Fugs.
Kupferberg, now an unbelievable 86 years old has suffered two strokes recently that have left him blind. There will be a concert for his benefit on January 22nd St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, featuring performances by Ed Sanders, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, Sonic Youth, John Zorn and others (further details below).
Back in the day, Kupferberg, and his fellow just-post-Beat poet Sanders (also known as the author of ‘Tales of Beatnik Glory’ and ‘The Family’) formed the Fugs as a kind of rock/poetry/performance art/provocation/general nuisance in Greenwich Village. They succeeded on all levels, crafting a number of cool albums, including a couple for the storied New York alternative label ESP-Disk, of which ‘The Fugs’ from 1966 was their second.
Though I certainly knew who the Fugs were, I didn’t actually hear any of their music until the late 80s, when I picked up their first two albums on CD. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since long-term ingestion of 60s/70s rockcrit spew seemed to indicate that the Fugs were punk (in the truest sense), offensive (though that is certainly a matter of perspective, since their lyrics wouldn’t raise many eyebrows today) and completely insane.
I had arrived at a time where I had investigated all the obvious 60s garage/psyche avenues and was peeking down every back alley I could find. When I took a turn down Fugs St I was pleasantly surprised to find it lined with many of the usual 1965/66 type sounds, whipped into a crazed meringue, closer in spirit to Little Richard than William S Burroughs.
The tune I bring you today, ‘Group Grope’ hails from that 1966 album and sounds like Sanders and Kupferberg hijacked Dylan’s ‘Highway 61’ band and stuffed them full of LSD. The vocalists spend just over three and a half minutes going buck wild over a foundation of guitar, electric piano, bass and drums.
It’s all about…

“Dope, peace, magic gods in the tree trunks and GROUP GROPE BAY-BEEEE!!!!”

…as well as other, similar sentiments.
It’s a great sound, and if it were just a little stoopid-er and a little younger and a little less urban it might pass for garage punk.
If you dig it – or were hopefully already hep to the Fugs – and you’re in the area, go to that benefit and hobnob with some of the giants of New York underground history, and help Tuli pay his medical bills. Surely that man that helped created something as solid as ‘Group Grope’ deserves a little peace in his golden years.
I hope you dig the song, and I’ll be back later in the week.


Peace

Larry

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The Sugar Shoppe – The Attitude

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The Sugar Shoppe (Victor Garber 2nd from left)

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Listen/Download – The Sugar Shoppe – The Attitude

Greetings all.

Welcome to the new week.
The tune I bring you today is by a group that I was completely unaware of until last year, when I stumbled across their album in the midst of a bleary-eyes sunshine pop binge.
I saw the album cover, and one of the group members looked awfully familiar. It was a few seconds before the face registered and I realized that I was looking at actor Victor Garber, who I remembered from the movie of ‘Godspell’ (in which he portrayed Jeebus) and countless TV and movie appearances.
I hit the old Google-matic, and discovered some positive writing about the group, so I figured as soon as I found an affordable copy of the Sugar Shoppe album I grab one and give it a listen.
When I finally did, I liked it (to a point).
The Sunshine Pop oeuvre, while packed with underappreciated gems, is also jam packed with sugary junk, i.e. glassy-eyed, overly twee, insubstantial, stuff that only the most hard-core collector of the stuff would be able to tolerate.
Fortunately, 30+ years of listening to music has (if nothing else) provided me with a sense about these things, and a quick appraisal of an unheard record (i.e. material, producer, arranger etc) can give some idea of what you might be in for.
Since the album in question wasn’t very expensive, and since the group did covers of Donovan’s ‘Skip-a-long Sam’ (their version adding an unnecessary dollops of saccharine to the original) and the theme from the film ‘Privilege’ I figured I’d give it a go.
There were a couple of things that strayed a little too close to the universe of show-tunes, but there were also a couple of real gems, so on balance I’d say I like the record.
The Sugar Shoppe were a foursome, mixed between US and Canadian residents that released some 45s (for the Yorkville label) before recording the Capitol album that gave us today’s selection.
The tune I bring you today, ‘The Attitude’ starts with an Eastern touch, mixing sitar with what sounds like a call to prayer, before turning into a great pastiche of the Mamas and Papas Cali-folk rock sound. I’d go as far as to say that the female singers were doing their best to duplicate the harmonies of Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips (wait for the phrase ‘beyond your years’ which sounds like it was spliced in from a Mamas and Papas album).
It’s sweet without being cloying and has enough kick to keep it interesting.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for both sides of a southern funk 45

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