Friday, October 20, 2017

Jackie Shane

Just who is Jackie Shane?  That would make a great title for an even greater documentary. Jackie Shane, for those who've been held in a cave in Pakistan by the Taliban for the past few years is a trans-gender soul performer from the 60's who cut a handful of collectible 45's and an even rarer live Canadian LP.  I'm not here to give you a full bio, so for a better run down on who Jackie was (and still is) I will direct you to this excellent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio Jackie Shane documentary from a few years back produced before Jackie's whereabouts were known (Jackie is alive and well in Nashville I'm happy to report, check out this NY times feature here). You can keep your Esquerita and Little Richard, they both might have been Kings or Queen's of camp and skirted the edge's of then forbidden sexuality but Jackie Shane was firmly "out" when "out" was risky, career stifling  and downright dangerous to one's health and freedom.  Dressing like a woman, in full on make-up in colorful clothes and affecting feminine mannerisms to the hilt Jackie Shane wasn't just a pioneer, she was a legend and still is. And though she often referred to herself as "a man" on several studio recordings she apparently left no confusion on the matter in real life and especially live onstage. On a live version of Barrett Strong's "Money" on her only LP ("Jackie Shane Live" 1967 Caravan records, Canada recorded live onstage in Toronto, Canada where she made her living) Jackie does a hip spoken word bit which clearly spells out where she was at:

"You know when I'm walking down Young Street you won't believe this but some of them funny people have the nerve to point their finger at me and grin and smile and whisper, but you know that don't worry Jackie because I know I look good. And every Monday morning I laugh and grin on my way to the bank. Cos I got mine. I look good, I got money and everything else that I need. You know what my slogan is? Baby do what you want just know what you're doin' , as long as you don't force your way or your will on anybody else you can live your live cos ain't nobody sanctified and holy....."

The rap goes on with repeated references to "chicken" (slang for young gay men apparently) and a hysterical "if you got it flaunt it" style of witty banter.  Check it out here.

I first became acquainted with Jackie Shane after seeing a few photos on a very hip and wise friend's Facebook page. I wasn't sure of her gender or even her race as the color of her skin and heavily applied make up in the old black and white and sepia photos gave her almost Asiatic features.  So decided to do some sleuthing and stumbled upon Jackie's 1963 Sue (U.S.) single "In My Tenement" . Being knee deep in a fascination with all things mid/early 60's on Sue I was immediately bowled over and wanted to hear more. A search of Discogs showed that securing an original pressing was never going to happen (3 for sale from $196.41 at last glance) so I popped over to YouTube and iTunes and checked out a gamut of Jackie's material which I immediately dug. I duly purchased everything on iTunes including the raucous 1967 live Canadian only LP (which I eventually went out a bought an original copy of).  All of the singles are worth seeking out as is the live LP.  For those afraid of the hefty price of original pressings the Numero Group label has just launched a two CD/2 LP retrospective titled "Any Other Way", fully licensed and containing every track ever released by Jackie (no mean feat considering her discography was spread over half a dozen different labels from both the US and Canada where she was based in the 60's and most popular).

Here's a few of my fave Jackie picks for your perusal:

"Any Other Way" US single A side Cookin' 602 1962 / Sue 776 1963
Delivered in a slow tempo , Jackie's cover of William Bell's 1962 Stax single takes the original's bounce down a few notches fattening up the sound with some crisp horns and cracking drums and adding a poignant, down trodden delivery.

"In My Tenement" US single A side Sue 788 1963
Jackie's most sought after 45 musically sounds like it could be ideally suited for Ben E King and lyrically calls to mind Garnet Mimm's "A Quiet Place" but far more uptown and sophisticated produced by "Juggy" Murray Jones.

"Stand Up Straight And Tall" US single B-side Modern 45xM 1031 1967
Gracing the flip of Jackie's reading of "You Are My Sunshine" is this organ driven, mid tempo groover that allows her to flex her vocal chops on top of some solid, funky musical backing.

"Don't Play That Song" LP track Canada "Jackie Shane Live" Caravan FP 100 1967
Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song" gets a royal treatment with solid brass and churchy Hammond underneath Jackie's wailing, outtasite vocals.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens 2

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-The Hard Way/Upside Down US MGM K13483 1966

The Nashville Teens sole U.S. 45 of 1966 was an Ashford/Simpson/Armstead composition called "The Hard Way" issued here in March (previously released in the U.K. in January as Decca F 12316). I've yet to find any other versions of "The Hard Way" so I am left to assume he band heard it from a publishers demo.

"The Hard Way" is hard to define genre wise. Driven by the twin vocal attack of Art Sharp and Ray Phillips it's got appeal but is interestingly offset by some harpsichord and hard drumming.

"Upside Down" is a rarity in that it's a band original written by singer Art Sharp. It's not the strongest tune and sounds more at place two years prior during the beat boom with some barroom ivory tinkling by keyboardist John  Hawken and a nasty/gritty little guitar solo (by Mick Dunford).

Both sides, though uncredited on this U.S. release were produced by Mike Leander and can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "The Hard Way":

Hear "Upside Down":

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels:The Societe

THE SOCIETE-Bird Has Flown/Breaking Down US Deram 45-DEM-7517 1968

One of the many tracks introduced to me via Decal records brilliant 1987 Deram records compilation LP "Deram Days" was this excellent two sider by a Glasgow quartet called The Societe. Released in the U.K. in November 1967 as Deram DM 162 London records in the States waited to issue it under the Deram umbrella a full two months later in January 1968.

The band were: Dave Dougall (lead vocals/organ), Robbie Burns (vocals/lead guitar), Dave "Suzie" Struthers (bass) and Smiler Frame (drums). The band were recommended to the Hollies who were in the process of setting up a production company at the time and upon seeing the Societe live it was decided that Allan Clarke would produce them with the band coming down to London to record what would be today's specimen. Interestingly the so called Hollies Production company "Hollies Recording Company Limited" seems to have come to naught because outside of this single I can't find evidence of any further releases (though The Zombies have an interesting story about meeting The Hollies for lunch hoping to produce them and the Hollies, it transpires, wanted to do the same for The Zombies!).  Both sides of this single were group originals.

The Societe courtesy of

There has long been controversy over the A-side "Bird Has Flown" as there are rumors of Hollies involvement in the recording outside Allan Clarke's production.  His voice is clearly audible in the backing vocals, but I can't discern either Graham Nash or Tony Hicks in the mix.  That out of the way its a fantastic down trodden sounding pop record that would not at all be out of place on The Hollie's "For Certain Because" album. With its backwards cymbals, piano and precise harmonies all under some interesting key changes it's a pretty decent single.

The flip side "Breaking Down" is far more upbeat. Driven by an uptempo melody of guitar and piano in tandem and held together by some tight harmonies and "call and response" vocals it's a nifty little tune as well.

Sadly there would not be another 45 by the Society but members Dave Dougall and Dave Struthers joined Andwella's Dream in time for their name change to Andwella in 1970.

As mentioned earlier both cuts were compiled on the LP "Deram Dayze" but sadly only the A-side has seen further reissues on the fantastic 1998 Deram/Decca CD collection "The Psychedelic Scene" and on a 2005 double CD "The Decca Originals".

Hear "Bird Has Flown":

Hear "Breaking Down":

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September's Picks

We're back with more Anorak Thing picks after our Summer hiatus!

1. ART-"Rome Take Away Three"
From the ashes of mod/r&b aficionado's The V.I.P's came Art who cut just one 45 and an LP for Island before changing their name and adding New Jerseyite Gary Wright to become Spooky Tooth. This was the flip of their sole 7", a cover of The Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", it's powerful like The Creation's "Tom Tom" but with soulful vocals and WAY heavier than anything The V.I.P.'s would have done.

2. THE DRAMATICS-"It's All Because Of You"
Anyone who's read "Detroit 67" or saw this past summer's film "Detroit" will be familiar with the tragedy that befell the Dramatics after the release of this powerful track (which figures prominently in the previously mentioned flick). Their last before eventual stardom on Stax it remains their most powerful and most sought after 7 inch.

3. FROG-"Witch Hunt"
From the soundtrack to the trippy 1973 classic film "Psychomania" comes this wah-wah driven classic by the great John Cameron, totally witchy and spooky with ethereal female backing vocals blending in with the strings.  Pure magic!

4. SOUND DIMENSION-"Soulful Strut"
Sound Dimension were basically the Funk Brothers of Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label and played on more ska/reggae than we'd have room to list. This 1969 interpretation of the Young Holt Unlimited instrumental is one of my favorites by them.

5. THE BARRACUDAS-"Summer Fun"
Some songs are meant to be blasted loud in joyous celebration whether you're a teenager in the back of a pick up truck on your way to the beach in 1982 with this on a boom box on the last day of school or on an iPod by 50 year old dad who's savoring Japanese beer after getting the kids to sleep.

6. SAKER-"Hey Joe"
Cheers to the excellent "Piccadilly Sunshine" CD compilation series for constantly unearthing U.K. 60's pop/psych 45's like this interesting reading of "Hey Joe" from 1969 by one Bob Saker. You would think a pop psych treatment of "Hey Joe" wouldn't work with the requisite strings, brass, woodwinds et al but it does and the lyrics are altered slightly to turn it into an anti-war protest which is a nice touch!

7. PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS-"Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
I remember lots of songs from my childhood but the first one that I really liked was this 1971 #1 (their only #1!) by Paul Revere and Co. (their last top ten hit as well). I was 5 or 6 and I was fascinated with Native Americans at the time and my dad explained the lyrics to me and I had my first experience of anger at injustice and social consciousness. The trippy fading strings and the Hammond at the fade still make the hairs on my neck stand on end 46 years later.

8. BO DIDDLEY-"I Can Tell"
It's hard to pick a fave Bo Diddley tune, but for me the $ has always been on this cooking little tune from 1962 found on the flip of the equally powerful "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover". I think my favorite part of the tune is the powerful bass line that set the template for so many great British r'n'b tracks.

9. DEL SHANNON-"Mind Over Matter"
There are many sad stories involving Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate records label but none sadder than him flying Del Shannon out to the U.K. in '67 and presenting him with the cream of the crop to back and him and a bevvy of amazing songs to record for an album that never was. This number is my fave of the bunch and was actually released as a 45 in the UK in '67.

From the 1967 U.K. Decca E.P. that saw Mayall and Co. collaborate with American Paul Butterfield "Ridin' On The L And N" is my fave track on the disc. It's hard driving, bluesy and superb, what you'd expect from Mayall.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Nashville Teens

THE NASHVILLE TEENS-Words/That's My Woman US MGM  K13678 1967

The Nashville Teens had one sole hit in the US, August 1964's "Tobacco Road" which reached # 14. By 1967 their ship had sailed both in the U.K. and the U.S. Their 8th U.K. 45 (Decca F 12542) "That's My Woman"/"Words"  was issued in Britain in January 1967.  Issued in the U.S. one month later MGM decided to flip the 45 putting the stronger "Words" on the A-side. It made little difference as it failed to chart.

"Words" is the stronger of the two in my book. Led by some slick horns and muted fuzz guitars and almost disembodied backing vocals that shriek out "Words!" it's probably one of the freakiest things they ever cut and certainly their most soulful.  The horns and fuzz guitars make it a strong contender for the "freakbeat" moniker.

"That's My Woman" had previously been tackled by The V.I.P.'s (curiously as a US only release as "The Vipps" on Mercury the previous year). Both versions share the same formula but the Teens version starts with the blistering fuzzed out "Love Is Strange" lick as an intro and though not as strong as the V.I.P's take it's still a decent version. Though uncredited on the US release Shel Talmy produced by sides

Both tracks can be found on two out of print Nashville Teens CD comps "Tobacco Road " and "The Best Of 1964-1969".

Hear "Words":

Hear "That's My Woman":

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Jumpin' Jack Flashes

1. THE ROLLING STONES U.K. 45 Decca F12782 1968
Nothing could prepare the world for the power that was "Jumping Jack Flash", the Stones first post psychedelia single and their first with producer Jimmy Miller.  From Keith Richard's zooming bass lines and his famous "open D tuning" guitar power chords the number kicks off any remnants of the flowery Summer of Love pretensions and puts the Stones back on top where they belonged. My favorite part is Bill Wyman's neo-classical organ trills towards the fade out.

2. LEON RUSSELL U.S. LP track "Concert For Bangla Desh" Apple SCTX 3385 1971
Part of a medley for the legendary "Concert For Bangla Desh (sic)" live gig/album Leon Russell and friends kick out the jams with a halfway decent version (considering the band had such a short time to prepare) that eventually slides into another song.

3. JOHNNY WINTER U.S. 45 Columbia 45 4-45368 1971
I know you're almost as surprised as I am....this live reading by Johnny Winter was issued as a single in 1971 from a live LP .  Starting off with a hysterical bellow of "rock n roll!" it doesn't really deviate from the Stones version but it's nastier, heavier and though the vocal histrionics are a bit O.T.T at times it's worth a listen.

4. GENO WASHINGTON & THE RAM JAM BAND U.K. 7" E.P.  track Acid Jazz AJX285S 2013
Recorded in 1968 but unissued until 2013 by Acid Jazz, this is probably the most interesting interpretation here because it eschews the Stones punky, sped up aggression by slowing it down. Starting off with some spooky/churchy Hammond and a bashing guitar chord almost reminiscent of Deep Purple's "Hush" it stays heavy AND funky and though it's not Geno's best vocal performance the Ram Jam Band delivers as always and the organ literally carries it.

5. ANANDA SHANKAR France 45 Reprise RV.20246 1970
First released on Ananda's untitled U.S. 1970 LP for Reprise records the number was nonetheless issued as a single in France (and as a result is pretty scarce to come back). Fed by his intricate sitar riffing it's wrapped in hand claps, funky proto synth/Moog, easy listening Dolly Bird backing vocals and comes together in this funky mix that's half porn film loop music and half post Swinging London incidental discotheque film music.

6. ALEX CHILTON U.S. LP track "1970" Ardent 7-1515-2 1970
In between the dissolution of The Box Tops and the forming of the legendary Big Star, Alex Chilton cut several sides in 1970 that would remain unreleased for several decades.  Among them was this raggy, aggro filled punky cover that seethes both power and sheer venom.  It's pretty hard to "out swagger" The Rolling Stones with one of their own cuts but Chilton pulled it off magnificently!

7. WYNDER K. FROG U.K. 45 Island WIP-6044 1968
Interestingly U.K. Hammond n' horns masters Wynder K Frog had previously worked with the producer of the Stones original, Jimmy Miller.  By the time they cut the track Jimmy had ceased working with them and it was over seen by Gus Dudgeon. Wrapped up in a frantic mix of intricate Hammond noodling, razor sharp brass and funky congas it's a solid groove from start to finish.

8. NORMAN T. WASHINGTON U.K. 45 Pama PM 749 1969
Predominantly a reggae/rocksteady artist, Norman T. Washington's reading musically is soulful, even though the horns sound slick (and possibly cheezy in a soul-less but nevertheless cool sort of way) enough to be John Schroeder or Alan Hawkshaw .  Since Hawkshaw was behind the label's Mohawks instrumental combo it's not too far fetched to assume he might be involved. Watson's West Indian accent contrasts the distinctly British backing music and in some strange way it works.

9. KING HARVEST Australia 45 RCA Victor 101922 1973
Not the King Harvest of "Dancing In The Moonlight " fame but rather a heavy Aussie band who cut just two singles for RCA down under. Their final 45 was a double sided extended take (labeled "Part's One" and "Two") that reminds me of the ham fisted simplicity of Alex Chilton's reading but with some cool harmony backing vocals and a very gritty delivery.

10. THELMA HOUSTON U.S. 45 Dunhill D-4212 1969
Easily my favorite cover is this powerful version from October of '69 led by Thelma's powerful pipes and the gospel style backing vocals.  Delivered at a pace not too dissimilar from the original the real gas besides the stellar vocals is the groovy strings that sweep in!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: Georgie Fame's US Epic Debut

GEORGIE FAME-Bidin' My Time (Cos I Love You)/Because I Love You US Epic 5-10166 1967

Georgie Fame switched from Columbia to CBS in the U.K. in 1967 which as a result saw him move from Imperial to Epic in the US. His March 1967 U.K. CBS debut was "Because I Love You"/"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" (CBS 202587). It was curiously reversed for his US release in May. It needn't have mattered because the record did nothing chart wise here.

This 45 marked the second time two Georgie Fame originals graced the same 45 (credited to his real name Clive Powell). It was produced by Denny Cordell (who interestingly produced his 1966 work for his previous label in the UK Columbia, some of which were issued in the States by Imperial).

"Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)" is an uptempo track that benefits from some funky congas and razor sharp horns with some interesting licks. There's an nifty break with a jazzy bass solo and congas reminiscent of a '67 Small Faces track (not too far off as both featured on some of the mighty mod foursome's '67 Immediate LP). The whole thing is pulled off in no small part by Cordell's production. Curiously there is no Hammond on the tune just piano, surely a precursor of thing's to come for "Fame In '67 On CBS" (as his U.K. label CBS promoted him with a distinct logo appearing on all his U.K. releases).

Fame with bassist Rik Brown

"Because I Love You" is a brilliant mid tempo ballad with layers of exquisite horns that weave in and out and propel it's infectious Motown inspired melody. Like the previous track it is also devoid of Fame's familiar Hammond.

Sadly Fame's next U.K. CBS release "Try My World" b/w "No Thanks" (CBS 2945 August 1967) would be passed over for a U.S. release and Americans would have to wait for the next Georgie Fame 7", the abominable "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde", his last solo hit (#1 in the U.K. and #7 in the U.S.) in 1968.

Both cuts are on a variety of places including the CBS years UK CD compilation "Somebody Stole My Thunder" and the more recent (and essential) double CD reissue of his "Two Faces Of Fame: The Complete 1967 Recordings" (the 1967 LP in mono and stereo with 45, E.P. and unreleased cuts.

Hear "Bidin' My Time (Cos' I Love You)":

Hear "Because I Love You":

Watch "Because I Love You" live in 1967 on German TV's "Beat Beat Beat":