Monday, 29 August 2011

Skip James - A Delta Blues Legend

During the 1930s the best music to ever grace the airwaves was recorded and captured on very primitive recording equipment and luckily a great deal of these highly important recordings were released on 78rpm records and recently have been graced release on many LP's and Cd's. The foundation of all great music began during these times in the America south, the 1930s black musicians of the day all came from hardship lives and poor backgrounds, the majority of these musicians came from the Mississippi delta regions and lived very vagrant based life styles through their early to adult lives.

The biggest hardship facing these musicians at the time was that their skin colour was Black, it was hard being a Black person in America during these poverty stricken times particularly in the Deep South, America was politically leaning to the right and many horrific things were happening to Black people during this period of history.

The implications of society had an extreme influence on the wandering 'Blues' musicians who drifted from town to town playing their music like the troubadours of truth and reality, expressing their souls and having people who also led similar lives listening and taking inspiration and comfort from their music.

Fortunately a great deal of these musicians were recorded and their music is still available for us to enjoy today, this music IS the most important music which mankind has, it is the most truthful account of the human soul in music form and should be highly praised and respected as being of such great importance.

My personal favourite of all the Blues Musicians from this period is Skip James.

Nehemiah 'Skip' James was born in 1902 in Yazoo City based the heart of The Mississippi delta, leading a somewhat fragmented child and teen hood, Skip found a love for music and adopted the guitar whilst working a number of different jobs playing only for the odd tip here and there. During these times Skip likely was in contact with other older musicians such as Charley Patton and Tommy Johnson who influenced Skip's music tremendously. In 1921 Skip left Mississippi for Arkansas and then further onto Memphis, TN, until such a time whereby he returned back down to the Delta.

In 1930 Skip auditioned for H.C Spier who was thankfully responsible for recording so many of the great black artists of the day and in February 1931 Skip travelled all the way up to Wisconsin by train where he recorded 18 classic and genius recordings, these were his only recordings and each recording is a piece of art.

From these recording sessions Skip managed to have Paramount release a few of the cuts on 78rpm records, however with the depression about to hit America, the records never sold and only very few sold meaning that originals of these records sell for astronomically high prices. As the depression made Skip's music disappear it so too meant he himself faded into obscurity.

Shortly after his 1931 recording session, Skip re-established a relationship with his bootlegger father whom neglected him when he was young, his father had found God and began a life as a Baptist preacher, he suggested to his son to do the same and join him spreading the word of God... Skip decided to do so and turned his back on music and the Blues and began a life preaching the gospel, this kind of thing is typical in relation to the psyche of The Blues musician and of the tormented internal demons many of The Blues guys suffered, the Devil/Angel complex, which all great creative folks have, I too have this in the most disastrous of fashions hence why I relate heavily to this type of music.

Thirty years after his original 1931 recording session in Grafton, Wisconsin, Skip James was re-found leading a quiet life, his music had been unearthed and a new generation of Young Americans who were searching for America's folk music delved deep into his recordings and finally the man had an audience to play too again.

What audiences found in Skip James, a good thirty years after he had been involved in music was not an everyday musician, but an artist of the highest order. His original music was classed as genius and during the reformation of his popularity he didn't stray too far from the original basis of his music, he stayed true to himself and didn't compromise his belief in himself or his artistry.

Skip sadly passed away in 1969, having during the last five years of his life, re-established himself as an artist to a much more younger and much more appreciative audience, he also financially gained more than he did back in the 30s too which proves that genius no matter how long it may be  ignored during it's time eventually gets found out about and given it's due.... this precedence is what gives me hope in regards to my own music for future generations to come.

For me as a fan of the Blues, I really relate to Skip James' work and art, he communicated his feelings well in his music and I have a lot of influence from that, he sang about his troubles and laid it bare on the table for the world to see and hear and you can only have great respect for someone who is that emotionally brave to lay themselves that bare to a listening audience and for me is a mark of a true artist and genius.

The themes in Skip's songs also hold a great influence over me, although they are mainly dark, macabre and have an raw honesty in dealing with the mindset of a 'troubled' outlook in life, they portray a realness which you cannot beat or ever come close too, and that's what I really DIG!

Here are clips from Skip's original 1931 recording session and are also my personal favourites from his catalogue.

Devil Got My Woman

Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues

Yola My Blues Away

Cypress Grove Blues 

If You Haven't Any Hay Get On Down The Road



Sunday, 28 August 2011

Jimmy Wages - Mad Man & Take Me (Sun Records - circa 1956)

During the early to mid 50s particularly in the Bible belt states of Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky came a music so primitive and so wild that what was recorded during that time influenced future generations of music makers in years and decades to come.

Rock 'n' Roll was a fresh and wild new sounding music which when heard for the first time made the minds of the youth of the day explode with hormonal rage and rebellion.

The mid 50s period between 1955-57 was the peak years for this type of music and the headquarters of this fresh sound was the record label and studio 'Sun Records' based in Memphis, Tennessee.

A great wealth of artists recorded at Sun and also the birth of a musical genre began there, such influential acts who recorded and had releases include Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison amongst countless others.

For me as a student of occultism and magick, I feel that the rise of the Rock 'n' Roll era was the esoteric consequences of the combining of two magical primitive energy forces rooted in musical modes, from country and hillbilly music via the folk songs of England, Ireland and Scotland came forth the essence of Celtic Folk magick and from the Black Slavery of Africa via the influence of Blues and Swing came African Voodoo magick and combined together , a new music was formed which drove teenagers wild all around the world; this music was Rock 'n' Roll. 

Rock 'n' Roll music was and is the basis of popular music and continues to still influence the way people write songs today, even though most of today's songwriters don't know this or even realise they are creating energetic magick rooted sounds using scales and modes from these primitive beginnings and beyond.

Sun Records was highly influential and important in this birth of modern popular music.... one of it's greatest recording artists ironically never even had a release on the label and only recorded at The Sun records studio facility, thankfully recordings have survived.

This artist was Jimmy Wages, Wages was from Tupelo, TX and created some of the most demented Rock 'n' Roll recordings of the mid 50s.

What is genius about the recordings which Jimmy Wages recorded was their confused genius, these were by no-means chart toppers or radio friendly records by any stretch of the imagination, which is likely why they were never released on 45 and only over the last 20 years or so have come to light.

Also in great Blues and Rock 'n' Roll traditions Jimmy Wages music is paradoxical and has the makings of the first white outcast made recordings, there is an inner torment, a yearning for understanding, there is religious confusion, tortured personal themes in regards to women, teenage frustration and the conflict of good and evil both as an internal and an external means of knowing one's place in the world.

Jimmy Wages unlike a few of the other Sun recording artists wrote his own songs and this is where his genius is more genuine than the more-known artist of the day in my opinion.

Here are two of his most killer tracks, which I adore and love to bits.

Mad Man

Take Me ( From The Garden Of Evil)

I really dig the madness in both of the tracks above, they are the perfect tonic to the equal mindset of a madman.


The Meadowbrooks - Seems Like Only Yesterday b/w Time After Time (Catamount - 1965)

The onset of melancholia has hit me hard today and with it has come a wave/flood of musical emotions and memory, the record above is being posted, due in part to these feelings of melancholy and sadness.

The record above, The Meadowbrooks - Seems Like Only Yesterday b/w Time After Time is possibly one of the most beautiful 45s both musically and in appearance released in the mid-60s.

The Meadowbrooks were a white doo-wop vocal group who recorded songs in an acappella vocal style. Their label 'Catamount' were based in New Jersey which means that they too were likely from around this region too.

Catamount formed in 1964 and released a handful of great acappella 'only' doo-wop vocal styled 45s until 1966, most of these 45s were released on coloured vinyl, which during the 60s was a huge novelty, The Meadowbrooks' 45 came in a really wonderful scarlet red vinyl as pictured above.

The Meadowbrooks had two 45s released on the Catamount label during 1965, I'm unsure if they ever had any other releases.

What I particularly dig about The Meadowbrooks is that amidst The British Invasion and the wave of garage bands that occurred during that time in America, these kids stayed totally true to the earlier doo-wop sounds and recorded possibly for me one of the most beautiful records of the mid 60s, the record is completely in-keeping with the doo-wop traditions which came almost 8 years prior. This record in particular I feel has the tenderness that moody garage band 45's have, it also has a real and truthful honesty that only 60s girl-group recordings had at the time and that is a pretty special thing to me, that tenderness is what music is truly about for me.

I used to enjoy sharing this song with a friend of mine who seems like an eternity away from me at the moment, I only really have songs like this to reflect on the period of time we shared together and this 45 is one of the one's which cement the emotions for me.

These songs mean more to me now than ever, because the sentiment attached to songs seem more feasible and real now.

Enjoy the beauty of this acappella 45 below.

Seems Like Only Yesterday

Time After Time


The Calico Wall - I'm A Living Sickness b/w Flight Reaction (Dove - 1967)

The great thing about music is that there are often moments when certain records can portray how one internally feels, such is the case in regards to the record I am posting about today.

I struggle with life as much as the next guy, but at times I personally feel I am loosing the plot, the rest of the world and the universe which is exterior to me is pretty pointless a great deal mindless and whole means stupid, it's depressing and insulting to anyone with a grain of intelligence in their souls.

Here is where great existential psychedelic numbers come into play -

The Calico Wall, a small unknown psychedelic group from Minnesota cut what today could be called 'THE GREATEST' outsider/outcast recording released and cut possibly  the most out-there 45rpm single during the 60s.

Not much is known about 'The Calico Wall' as their sole legacy is found on this 45rpm record, however what a legacy it is, songs like this piss all over the 'world of people' as the band so eloquently put in their lyric.

If you are a member of this group or knew the band during 1967 please contact me, I'd love to make additions to this post and let people know more about the band.

SO without further a do, please find both killer sides of this 1967 psychedelic masterpiece.

I'm A Living Sickness

This track is like entering my mental state, these are my thoughts and feelings and the almost horror backlash with which resonates in the pits of my heart, soul and mind.... this song is full of self-pity, angst, disdain, annihilation, confusion and paints the world with a not so pretty brush compared to the way the hippies saw it, these guys were realists and confronted the raw honest truth in this their pinnacle release, things were not HIP at all in society during 1967 and neither is it now, records like this one cut through the bullshit and tell it how it is, the song is an existential masterpiece of the highest order and as I said above, relates heavily with me and my current mindset.

Flight Reaction

If you want psychedelic surrealism, look no further than here!! the track 'Flight Reaction' sends the listener into a mad dash tailspin akin to a plane crash, this is true psychedelic music, there is no 18 minute long guitar solos or a drum solo in sight, this is music which hits the nerve centre and confronts the optic cavities of the brain without stopping for a second!!! The actual likelihood too, is these cats being from Minnesota in 1967 had probably never done LSD, let alone smoked a joint, so the fact that they created a psychedelic masterstroke like this is way more cooler and much more better for it... these guys were naturally crazed and psychedelic and this neurotic madness is what created a killer two-sided slab of plastic.


Paul Messis

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lyn & The Invaders - Boy Is Gone b/w Secretly (Fenton Records -1966)

Fenton Records is my favourite label in the garage genre, almost every 45rpm single released from the label is a work of pure genius, I will likely write more about other 45s from this label, as I consider them all in such high regard.

Fenton Records had it's own recording studio facility called 'Great Lake Recording Studio' based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the sound on all the recordings made at 'Great Lake Recording Studios' has such a wonderful production sound and quality, as a musician myself I have tried very hard on my own recording to replicate this production sound, because the sound on most, if not all of the 'Fenton' releases are opulent jewels in terms of their sound production.... I can't explain it really, but to me it's a great work of art.

I am also really into Girl-Groups of the 60s and love the whole bubblegum appeal many of these girl groups had, I think a great deal of songs from the era sung by girls were pretty powerful and ultimately pretty cool.

The Fenton label had it's share of girl groups, but the best by far was the female-led group 'Lyn and The Invaders' who cut one absolute killer single on Fenton in 1966. (Although not stritly a Girl-Group per sá, I feel this 45 can be forgiven)

I adore the A-side cut of the single (I have never heard the B-side) however the plug side 'Boy Is Gone' is a great minor-key garage number which screams total Teen-Drama, these are the songs I really dig, the ones about break-up and loss, I have a leaning towards these type of song, especially when they are played with such intense conviction as Lyn and The Invaders are playing with on their song.

Lyn and The Invaders were -

Linda 'Lyn' Nowicki - Vocals
David Bergsma - Guitar
Bob Phillips - Drums
Denny De Cook - Guitar (possibly not on 45 as he left the group)
Fred Munch - Organ
Doug Pollak - Bass

Enjoy the Track!

Boy Is Gone



Q65 - Cry In The Night b/w The Life I Live (Decca - 1966)

The Netherlands during the 60s was a hot-bed of amazing musical talent, just like in other parts of the world, beat music influenced teenagers to buy guitars, form bands and go nuts.

The Netherlands is a small country yet it produced a vast amount of 60s 'Nederbiet' groups, who all released an amazing wealth of killer 45s and EP's.

Unlike their American counterparts, the Dutch bands took more influence from the likes of The Pretty Things and The Kinks rather than The Beatles and The Zombies, making the sounds coming out of Holland some of the meanest and most sinister Rhythm n Blues sounds in the most teenage and primitive of fashions.

One of the top bands (amongst many) in The Netherlands at this time were The Q65.

The Q65 formed in 1965 and what came forth was a handful of killer singles of cult status.

The Q65 were

Joop Roelofs - Guitar
Frank Nuyens - Guitar
Willem Bieler - Vocals
Peter Vink - Bass
Jay Baar - Drums

From 65-67 Q65 released an amazing wealth of singles and a totally amazing album called 'Revolution' in 1966. My favourite of their singles is Cry In The Night b/w The Life I Live, which for me is a consistent two sided monster of a 45.

I would at times class The Dutch Beat scene as superior to the British, cos although there was a large influence from the likes of The Rolling Stones and Pretty Things etc, the Dutch groups investigated old R&B records and took it too even more powerful and honest realms.

The Q65 took these influences and made some extra-ordinary  45s.

Dig the two sides of the 45 below.... originals of this 45 are frequently available and don't sell for a mad amount of money and won't break the bank, however there are a bunch of very faithful pic sleeve reissues which are available for under £10 and these are pretty faithful to the originals.

Cry In The Night

The Life I Live

Don't Blow Your Lid!


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Them Two - Am I Good Man? b/w Love Has Taken Wings (Deep City Records - 1967)

In West Sussex where I live not much ever happens these days, however during the 1980s the area was home (and still is) to a vast number of scooter clubs and related groups, this was the breeding ground for many different type of youth culture in the area, at one time in Sussex mainly during the 80s, there was a rich youth cultural variety due mainly to the locale being "beside the sea-side" and the fact  many big events of the day were promoted and made use of staging "weekenders" by the sea and this was, for the youth of the time an easily accessible way to become apart of something, during the 80s in Sussex there was a pretty wide range of youth scenes; there was a thriving skinhead scene, rockabilly and psychobilly scene plus a huge soul scene.

Of the above scenes left in Sussex the 'soul' scene is still surviving pretty well, with regular all-nighters, club nights and the odd meet up here and there, I myself have been to a few of these events myself and have seen just how passionately people at these events get for 'soul music' - this happens all up and down the country in many towns, big and small.

I am grateful I am merely an outsider of such fanfare, because I find it to resemble a black hole - people go in fairly normal and with-it and then before they know it they are putting talcum powder on dance floors, spinning around as fast as merry-go-rounds and even in rare instances looking like Noddy Holder - YES!!! there are at least three people I have seen on this scene who look like the great Side-Burned One from Birmingham.

Although I have no real care for The Sussex Soul Scene, nor do I wish to really engage heavily with it, I do admire the pure love these people have for this type of music, also although I am not a 'full-on' soul 45 collector myself by any means, I still have a few really hip Soul and Funk 45s that I really dig and love to bits.

One such record is the following... Them Two - Am I Good Man? b/w Love Has Taken Wings.

The 45 was released on a small Miami, FL based soul-label known as ' Deep City', the label is somewhat legendary amongst fans of this music, as each release is considered to be top-dollar as it were.

Them Two are considered somewhat of a mysterious vocal duo, not a great deal is known about them, although the enigmatic 'two' were vocalists Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke, Reid later went onto a succesful song-writing and recording career, however I feel this 45 was his piece de resistance, particularly the A-side cut.

I only wish to talk and share the A-side as it has been a special track to me for a number of years now. I relate heavily to it and love the lyrical subject-matter and the way both singers commit all their soul and fury onto the vinyl slab of plastic.

I think anyone who considers themselves a soulful person asks themselves the very same questions that the opening statements of this song ask.... I certainly do, and this song completely hits home for me in the most dramatic and intense kind of ways.... "Am I Good Man? Am I A Fool, Am I Weak? or Am I Just Playing It Cool?".... that to me is pure lyrical genius, the guy's seem to tap into the straight up unfounded confusion that lies internally for many of us so-called sensitive souls.

Dig this masterpiece of soul music...



Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ash Ra Tempel - Join Inn (1973)

In Germany during the years 1968 - 1978 a whole decade of music was forged which has never been heard or seen again since, the music coming out of Germany during this period was so unique, so spell binding and so raw. 'Krautrock' as it is now called was a scene of music made by a small and select grouping of people in Germany which was so out-there, so experimental, so spaced-out, so unlike any other western music's which were happening at the time.

I would even say that 'Krautrock' could quite possibly be the best thing happening in music during the early 70s. A great number of German groups who formed during this heyday period of 68-78 became highly regarded amongst critics, bands such as Neu, Can, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Cluster and Ash Ra Tempel.

The story of 'Krautrock' is long and interesting, but what is often found when researching this music, is that fame, style, accolade and other exterior motives were not the goals of any of these musicians, the search from truth in sounds was!!! and just like the Heirophants of ancient Egypt and Greece, like the magi of ancient cultures, these long-haired proto-punk shaman's created musical alchemy in their studios, using warped guitar tones, synthesisers, pitch benders, ring modulators, oscillators, bass, guitar and drums... Some of the albums released by various 'Krautrock' groups are the trippiest recordings of the 20th century.

One of the most trippiest is Ash Ra Tempel's third studio album 1973's 'Join Inn'

'Join Inn' is a very very rare album to find and is extremely scarce, it is hard-to-find on both cd and vinyl and no modern labels have bothered to make a decent reissue of this album yet, I myself have been searching for 5 years or more for a copy to no avail and only have a cd-r copy which a friend did for me.

This was also the last Ash Ra Tempel LP which featured the electronic pioneer Klaus Schulze before he went onto a highly influential solo and production career.

The line up of the band during this album consisted of -

Harmut Enke - Bass
Klaus Schulze - Drums, Organ, Synthesisers
Manuel Gottsching - Guitar
Rosi Muller - vocals

'Join Inn' only consisted of two long pieces which each dominated a whole side of the vinyl.... please find below the tracks.

Freak'n' Roll

A guitar, drum and synthesiser crazed freak-out which attacks all senses leaving the listener somewhat reeling from the audio experience which they have just experienced, this is stoner orientated jazz rock of the highest order and is by no means phoney compared to it's American or British contemporaries, this is the real deal, these guys were head-loose in other realms and not really touching down on any real earth, raking in at just over 19 minutes long, it is a freak-out that must have induced panic based fear in the brains of the band members whilst recording.


This track is the reason I wished to write about 'Ash Ra Tempel' on the blog today, this 25 minute opus of pure cascading sounds, dream-like melancholy, spacey desperation and lunar longing has been constantly on repeat in my world for the last few days. With the autumn coming and my moods continually going up and down and finding no real solace or structure or no  real reason nor rhyme, musical oracle's like this one are the only things which have currently been keeping my mindset grounded whilst at the same time keeping me in starry-eyed oblivion undaunted by the harsh realities of the world around me, it is such a magical piece of moving music, I love everything about it, the organ drones, the tremolo guitar, the fluttering synths, the overall ambience and the cool German chicks strung-out and dreamy beatnik styled vocal lines which I have no real understanding of, the only line I get is when she sighs in gentle hushed-tones 'Eins, Zwei, Drier' half-way through the song.... A beautiful piece of electronic experimental music.

Don't get lost in the woods...

Paul Messis

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Beat Merchants - Pretty Face b/w Messin' With The Man (Columbia - 1964)

The place is Horsham in West Sussex, the year was 1964 and a band by the name of The Beat Merchants released one of the finest 60s beat 45s that the country has offered.

As a resident of West Sussex myself and living in Billingshurst which is 8 miles South-West of Horsham (it being the nearest town), I would call Horsham home and thus it makes me feel exceptionally proud that a great band like The Beat Merchants came from my neck of the woods as it were.

Weirdly I feel I am the only person in Horsham district making any music of any real worth today and so consider myself as the next best thing after the Beat Merchants, I just hope my own 45s are considered as legendary as theirs one day. 

Another weird and slightly boring fact for those who are reading this, is that my Barber Allan, claimed to have cut these guys' hair back in the day and he is still in the profession today and cuts my hair.

Anyway... moving on to the music.

The Beat Merchants were originally a beat-instrumental group in The Shadows vein and went by the name of Peter and The Hustlers until the time the Rolling Stones played a gig locally at St Leonards Hall and what appears to be over night, these local Sussex lads ditched their matching suits and reverb units and what came forth was a ferocious sound of the highest 'mod' order.

Armed with Burns Guitars, Vox Amplifiers and style to boot, The Beat Merchants formed and instantly worked hard playing the South Coast gig circuit and recording a couple of Acetates at the infamous Regent Sound complex on Denmark Street in London, also Acetates were made for Oak Records and Emidisc.

The Beat Merchants were -

Geoff Farndell - Bass
Chris Boyle - Vocals
Vic Sendall - Drums
Gavin Daneski - Rhythm Guitar & Harmonica 
Ralph Worman - Lead Guitar

The Beat Merchants were fortunate that their acetates got picked up and they had two released singles on Columbia.

Pretty Face b/w Messin' With The Man (which this post will honour)
So Fine b/w She Said Yeh

The track 'So Fine' was the b-side on a split-single with Freddie & The Dreamers which got to Number 1 in America.

'Pretty Face' entered the UK charts at number 44, which during the 60s was a pretty cool position to be in, especially if you were from a middle of no-where town like Horsham.

The Beat Merchants split up in late 1966, which is a shame cos they could of gone on and done great and wonderful things, an example of these songs are on the recently compiled 'The Beats Go On' cd which compiles all the band's recordings, my personal favourite being the track 'What Have I Done' which should have been a 45 of its own.

Both tracks of their debut 45 are found beneath the label pics below, copies of the original 45 are somewhat easily obtainable and can be found on Ebay and the like from time to time, I found my copy in one of the Record Shops in Guildford for £30, although copies of both Columbia 45s have been known to sell for over the £100 mark at times.

As stated above a really cool cd called 'The Beats Go On' is available and can be found both cheaply and easily and as mentioned there are some pretty cool unreleased cuts that never saw the light of day until now on it.

Enjoy the West Sussex Beat Music.


Spectrum - How You Satisfy Me (Silvertone - 1991)

During my teen years, I was the biggest Spacemen 3 fan going, I purchased every record the band released and followed the band members' efforts post-Spacemen 3, I was even fortunate to become friends with a couple of the members over the years.

Spectrum was formed by Pete 'Sonic Boom' Kember during the demise of Spacemen 3 in around 1990, after releasing a solo album as 'Sonic Boom', the Spectrum project began as a means for Pete Kember to continue his 'drone' minimalism and take music to new and spaced out heights and highs.

After a handful of one-off releases plus his debut solo effort, the first official release for Pete Kember's new band Spectrum was a great introduction to a band if there ever was one and was the first offering from the bands debut album 'Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) released the proceeding year in 1992. 'How You Satisfy Me' is in my mind possibly the best single of the 90s, it is one of the only songs I know which fuses many different genres of music into one song, there is German Krautrock a'la Neu! influence, 60s Garage influence, Punk influence, Psychedelic influence not to mention the main organ riff was nicely ripped off from an Evie Sands track called 'I Can't Let Go' (originally by The Hollies).

Spectrum 7" and LP packaging was always pretty cool, the 'How You Satisfy Me' single came in clear vinyl with a really hip clear plastic op-art sleeve featuring a cool image of the band, I think this sort of packaging is pretty cool and more bands today should put more imagination into their record sleeves... If I ever do another 45 myself, I am gonna look into doing a sleeve like the one above (top pic).

Below are sound clips of the 7" - I have included the vocal version of 'Don't Go (Please Stay)' originally on the US version of the bands  'True Love Will Find You In The End' single as the versions featured on the 'How You Satisfy Me' single were two instrumental takes of the song.

Dig the single...

How You Satisfy Me

Neo-Psychedelic drone fest with Krautrock leanings, you can't get any cooler than this during the 90s, seriously!!!

My Life Spins Round Your Every Smile

A truly wonderful piece of experimental soundscape mind tripping music, this piece of music is a great interlude between songs, Sonic Boom is a genius when it comes to making soundscapes such as the one above. What I love about this is the way it ebbs and flows not too mention I love the title of the song, it evokes a wealth of thoughts when listening to the music.

Don't Go (Please Stay) - vocal version

A hypnotic and chilled out track with a great vocal line (even though it was taken from The Cryin' Shames' Please Stay)... how great is the lyric "Be Different, Please Stay, Don't Go).... What I have always loved about this is the use of the words "Be Different"... I will likely do a post about the Joe Meek produced 'Please Stay' by The Cryin Shames at another date.



Monday, 22 August 2011

The Springfields - Sunflower (Sarah Records - 1988)

During the 80s there was a huge and thriving melting pot of  musical styles and flavours consisting of many types of bands who played music influenced from the past yet interpreting it in their own way to make a truly (for the times) modern sound and statement, as was the case similarly during the 70s Punk explosion a decade before, the 80s underground music scene was full to the brim with a whole host of ecclectic bands who had one-off 7" singles released on small record labels, many of these bands are  virtually unknown beyond a small fan-base around the particular genre or scene and remain to a lesser or greater degree 'hidden gems'.

The Springfields were an American jangle-pop group with obvious influences from the 'Paisley Underground' scene which came five or six years before, their  7" single of which I am going to review and share - 'Sunflower' was released in the summer of 1988 on cult British 'Indie' label 'Sarah Records' and is one such musical 'hidden gem', I feel this is one of the most beautiful releases during the late-80s.

Packaged in a alluring hand-folded sleeve with dazzling and wonderfully designed labels, the record not only sounds the part, it also looks the part too.

The Springfields were -

Rik Menck - 12 String Guitar, Tambourine, Drums & Vocals
Wes Lachot - Bass
Paulie Chastain - Bass, Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals
Eric Petersen - Acoustic & Electric Guitars

The Springfields mainly revolved around the talents of the band's leader Rik Menck.

Below I have added two songs from the 7", the A-side 'Sunflower' which is a wonderfully rich sounding recording with Byrds-like jangle and textured harmonies, it's a really great song and I feel a really interesting piece of song writing especially for the late 80s.

The second track is one of the two B-sides, the song of which I am including on this post is a cover version of The Hollies track 'Clown', The Springfields version sounds very much like it could have been a B-side on a 60s garage band 45.




Mel Smith & The Nite Riders - Pretty Plaid Skirt (& Long Black Socks) b/w I'll Never Change (Sue Records - circa 1958?)

                                              (Pic Above - Doc Starkes with the Nite-Riders)

I picked up this 45 a few years ago, after being briefly in a band who used to cover it, I don't think we ever played it outside of the rehearsal room, however the song holds a few cool memories for me. Whilst I played the frantic guitar part it always used to blow my mind at how cool the track I was playing was and that inspired me to go out and track the 45 down, because it is quite possibly the most frantic and wildly erratic R&B 45 to ever exist.

Mel Smith joined forces with The Nite-Riders led by Doc Starkes and to my opinion created one of the most jaw-dropping Rhythm and Blues records to ever be released.

The highlight track in question is the earth shattering Flip Side, 'Pretty Plaid Skirt (And Long Black Socks) what a hip title for a song hey?, the music is primitive and absolutely wild, it sounds like a Bo-Diddley beat taken to  it's fullest amphetamine high and stuck in fifth gear; possessed by the devil himself - Mel Smith gives a ferocious vocal workout on the song and hits the mark with a paint-peeling scream after each verse for the song then to only re-begin rolling like a freight train in the direction of the Sun.

When I used to DJ on the very rare occasions until I got sick of it and the pretence which that idealism holds, I used to play this record and it used to really confuse people, it has a beat that people could dance to but it also isn't quite right, meaning that people on the dance-floor looked like they had just received lobotomies from the local nut house.

The plug side to this records is a simple boozy bar blues type number called 'I'll Never Change', it is a cool mid-tempo guitar and piano driven song, about a deep yearning for some floozy dame who obviously caused young Mel Smith some mighty fine distress (as most women do), he confirms to the listener and himself a multitude of times that "He'll Never Change" and he sure as hell means it, especially when the sloppy guitar work and crazy piano playing duel against one another to be the more 'prominent' instrument on the record and ending up sounding like a crazy plague infected ship sinking in the sea, however like all great records it's not perfect and that is what is cool about it.

Due to its imperfections this 45 is a double-sided killer and I would suggest that you find an buy yourself a copy.

Originals of this 45 have been known to go for $300 and more.... I must of been super lucky cos I got an original one myself for around the $30 mark... I think that is the lowest you'd ever be able to find it??

A bunch of Bootleggers in London have made reissues of this 45 (alongside a bunch of other rare and hard to find 45s) which are available to buy for under a tenner. I personally don't condone anyone purchasing anything from these pirates... cos these clowns are the one's making the money! and for what? ruining a record's integrity as a collectable and sought after item?

Enjoy the sound clip of 'Pretty Plaid Skirt' below...

Take Good Care