6 May 2015

Reupload - Patrick D Martin - I Like Lectric Motors/ Time

Label: Deram
Year of Release: 1979

I've blogged at some length before about how much revisionism has occurred on the topic of eighties (or in this case, cusp seventies/ eighties) electronic music. This isn't necessarily surprising in itself - history is generally written by the winners, and why would the Great Book of Rock and Pop waste its time devoting entry space to Karel Fialka, The Techno TwinsTik and Tok and other such robo-jerking comrades when the battle was conclusively won by people who attempted to give machines a soul, who realised that focussing all their artistic and lyrical efforts on the novelty of modern electronic devices would eventually be regarded as nothing more than a novelty itself?

Indisputable though this may be, "Left and to the Back" has never been about analysing victories in pop, and "I Like Lectric Motors" by Patrick D Martin is yet another electronic obscurity which, instead of utilising electronics gracefully a la Soft Cell, New Order and The Human League, judders all over the show like a giant angry mutant wasp zig-zagging its way towards the party food. Focussing its lyrical efforts on the benefits of non-combustion engines, and being a damn sight better at predicting the future than most music of this era in the process, "I Like Lectric Motors" manages to avoid sounding hackneyed by actually being damn good. A simple idea based upon stomping, jerky repetition, it's brief, to the point, and a welcome splash of cold water to the face. A popular DJ spin choice at the "Blitz Club" at the turn of the eighties, it's been surprisingly overlooked by revivalists since, turning up for mere buttons in record stores and on internet auction sites.

As for who Patrick D Martin was and what else he did, good question. Another strangely prophetic song entitled "Computer Dating" came forth from his pen (whoever he was, he was certainly good at this malarky, perhaps he should have become a Science Fiction writer) and he appeared to get minor press reviews in, amongst other places, "Billboard" magazine, but beyond that there's very little to go on. Please do comment if you know more.

And remember - Electric motors have no fears.

(This blog entry was originally written in August 2011. Reinhard Steinbrecher dropped by to comment:

"Patrick D. Martin from London lived in Erlangen near Nuremberg Franconia Bavaria Germany since the Seventies.

He sold London Avantgarde Jeans and Jackets in his Boutique in Erlangen near Disco Marco Polo.His songs were recorded in Moehrendorfstudios near Erlangen with A.Buehler (from Erlangens CULT_BAND WIND, legendary Stefan Fischer and on bass: John Davis - Fuerth later famous as the real voice of Milli Vanilli.")

3 May 2015

David and David - In The City/ Good Morning Morning

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1970

While this piece of popsike hasn't quite slipped through the net - it did end up on the "Curiosity Shop" compilation last year - it has, it's safe to say, been rather largely ignored since its release despite the Gus Dudgeon production credit. Shunned even by the mighty Bible of all things sixties and esoteric, the "Tapesty of Delights" encyclopaedia, it's inexplicable that this one has been left to gather dust for so long.

There's an unquestionable Moody Blues air about the proceedings on "In The City", with a great deal of melodramatic vocalisations and despairing orchestrations about the angst of urban life, but the song has enough of a pop edge to succeed by the time the chorus rolls around. It's naive, charming, slightly silly and sweet and also somehow a tad epic with it, qualities that rarely occur in the same song at the same time. If Elton John actually had got around to covering Nick Drake, it might have ended up sounding a bit like this.

David and David were clearly a duo (and spare me the jokes about David Steel and David Owen of the Liberal/ SDP alliance, please). The identity of one of these Davids is unclear, but the other is clearly David Mindel, who would later go on to join the widely compiled Esprit de Corps whose "If (Would It Turn Out Wrong)" has been a mainstay of sixties rarity LPs. I think this is a slightly better single than that, though - not as woozy or psychedelic sounding, despite its earlier release date, but certainly a much more convincing and strident piece of work.

Besides working with the DJ Mike Read in the aforementioned Esprit de Corps, Mindel went on to become a respected soundtrack man and TV themes writer, whose biggest money spinner must surely be the British National Lottery theme. Don't feel too sorry for him, readers, I'm sure he copes.

29 April 2015

Dora Hall - Satisfaction/ 5 O'Clock World

Label: Reinbeau
Year of Release: 1966

Regular readers of "Left and to the Back" will know that I have a soft spot for Dora Hall. This is the wife-of-a-disposable-picnicware-magnate's fourth blog entry in total, and for anyone wanting to know the full background behind her colossal back catalogue, the answers can be found here. Literally hundreds of Hall singles are out there for the taking, and quite a few videos and LPs too.

Whether you love or loathe her output, there's no question that she covered some downright unusual tunes at times. Clearly Hall's first love was the showy swing of the easy listening kings and queens - you can hear it in her mannered, measured delivery - but she was never afraid to put that to use on modern rock hits. In this case, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" gets the Hall makeover, being turned into a big, brassy piece of suaveness. Her vocals aren't perfect, but the style suits the track oddly well, and it has enough oomph to carry itself entertainingly across three minutes. Andrew Loog Oldham surely approved, and by the time the horn section kicks in, so will you.

Less convincing is the B-side "5 O'Clock World" which is a struggle to listen to, despite the delightful premise of the idea. 

Oh Dora. You may be the Queen of the American Thrift Store Bin, but you're the kind of artist blogs like this were invented for. I salute your memory. 

26 April 2015

Fickle Pickle - Maybe I'm Amazed/ Sitting On A Goldmine

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1970

Paul McCartney, by his own confession, went a tiny bit odd after The Beatles split, the initial elation of "that magic feeling" of having nowhere to go soon giving way to common-or-garden boredom, inertia and vague depression. His home recorded debut solo album, while fondly regarded in general, is still seen as a missed opportunity by some. Like a series of draft sketches produced by a master painter, it taunts and teases the listener with brilliance before often ebbing away into stoned incoherence.

At the time, "Maybe I'm Amazed" was almost universally regarded as the stand-out track, another epic McCartney rock ballad in search of a more polished arrangement. Macca refused to entertain the idea of it being released as a single, though, and it seemed destined to remain album-bound, until a group of session boys at Morgan Studios in London got other ideas.

Fickle Pickle, a studio group consisting of Wil Malone (of Orange Bicycle and Motherlight) on keyboards, Geoff Gill on drums and vocals, Cliff Wade on a variety of instruments and Steve Howden on bass, picked up the song and decided to turn it into a hit single. The fact that you're reading about it on here means they obviously failed, but that's actually highly surprising. This version allows the song to spread its wings (no pun intended) fully and is a damn good guess at what a polished, non-home studio version of "Amazed" might have sounded like. And it's a corker - the drums sound more fluid than metronomic, and the backing vocals soar like the Fabs at their Abbey Road finest. Its failure is one of pop's biggest mysteries. 

It was a minor hit in the Netherlands, and in an attempt to capitalise on their success in that country an LP entitled "Sinful Skinful" was released by the boys, but failed to sell at all well. It's a reasonably nice concoction of slightly novelty-tinged turn-of-the-seventies pop, but nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. The only other highly noteworthy Fickle Pickle recording for my money is their B-side "Sam and Sadie" whose anthemic Beatles-inspired drama predates Oasis's penchant for such things.

And the "Maybe I'm Amazed" story doesn't necessarily finish there. It's also been covered by The Faces and Billy Joel, but for my money, Sandie Shaw's seldom heard and considered reading is also worth a listen. If other significant covers emerge in the future, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

22 April 2015

Dermot Morgan - Thank You Very Much Mr Eastwood/ (Garret version)

Label: Ritz
Year of Release: 1985

An appropriate one, this, since this week marks the twenty year anniversary of the first episode of "Father Ted" being broadcast  (if I'd been quicker on the ball, I'd have had this blog entry written days ago). In the leading role, Morgan's depiction of a priest filled with thwarted ambitions stuck on an island of rural idiots was fantastic. While O'Hanlon's dumb and innocent Father Dougal McGuire gets most of the obvious laughs initially, on repeated viewings it's Ted's horrendous and lonely predicament that gives the series its backbone. Without his entrapment and world-weariness, "Father Ted" would simply be a cast of idiots behaving oddly and chaotically.

As has been widely documented elsewhere, Morgan's career in Ireland far pre-dated "Father Ted". Active on radio and television comedy from 1979 onwards, he developed a reputation for sharp satire, taking on numerous authority figures or slightly dangerous targets (including the IRA). One of his earliest creations, Father Trendy, mocked priests who attempted to get down with their younger parishioners, but he was a slightly more hollow and vain creation than the priest Arthur Matthews created for the series.

Evidence of Morgan's popularity in Ireland in the eighties can be found in the fact that he was granted several novelty single releases during that period, always the hallmark of a bankable comedian. "Thank You Very Much Mr Eastwood" is perhaps the most famous of the set, and was penned to mock the predictable antics of one Barry McGuigan, the highly successful Irish featherweight boxer. Known for his habit of thanking his manager after every victory, "Thank You Very Much Mr Eastwood" rips into his clumsy speech patterns with obvious glee. If McGuigan feels like a questionable target these days, it's perhaps because, like most sports heroes, he has faded into the background in his retirement. At his peak he was an ubiquitous figure, even being a guest on the likes of "Noel's House Party". Such unquestioning reverence must have been like a red rag to a bull for Morgan, although the end efforts do ultimately leave one wondering whether a single about dodgy priests or terrorists would have aged better.

Whatever its relative merits, a UK issue of the record was granted at the time (not so daft when you consider that Frank Kelly - who went on to play Father Jack - had a hit with "Christmas Countdown" a couple of years before) although it wasn't a hit here. Still, the promo video, featuring Michael Redmond aka Father Stone, is worth a watch for all fans.

As for Morgan, as I'm sure you already know he passed away in 1998 at the age of 45. It's impossible to speculate where he would have taken his career next, but there's no question that he could have continued to have success without "Father Ted", and it's a huge tragedy that we were all denied the ability to witness this. But his performance in that series alone is an astonishing legacy, and something I - and many, many other people - will never tire of watching.