20 February 2019

Offered With Very Little Comment #5 - Nanette Workman, The Odd, The Memories, Dane Hunter, Soft Sensation

Some regular readers will be aware of the fact that from time to time, I throw a whole batch of singles up on to this blog in one swoop while writing very little about them.

This is usually for one of a few very simple reasons:

  • I know virtually nothing about the artist(s) in question
  • I have very little to say about the music
  • The record in question didn't really seem to me to warrant a lot of dissection. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes things just are what they are. 
So then, with no apologies offered for the lack of background reading, and with no expectations raised, please see the latest batch behind the link.

17 February 2019

Paul Dean and The Thoughts - You Don't Own Me/ Hole In The Head

"Sorry Pen". It's an angry song by Paul Nicholas telling his partner what's what and what's not.

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1965

Paul Nicholas is one of light entertainment's most flexible characters. From pop singer to stage actor to comedy actor to director, the man has jumped on every opportunity going, and impressively enough, managed to succeed at all of them. While the British public are most familiar with his charming but flawed character Vince in "Just Good Friends", his career actually began in the recording studio.

"Paul Dean" was one his early aliases, and "You Don't Own Me" is a very unexpected cover of a Lesley Gore near-hit. In Lesley's hands, it sounds like the defiant cry of an independent young woman who doesn't want to be saddled with a serious and possessive relationship. At the point of its 1964 release, it must have sounded like a fairly radical and powerful piece of work. Paul Nicholas swaps the gender roles around for his version, and it just sounds sneering and boorish, and at the point of Paul protesting that he doesn't just want to be an attractive piece of fluff on his woman's arm, slightly unusual (though he is Paul Nicholas, I suppose). It's hard to imagine female record buyers being attracted to it, and judging by its low sales, the men didn't bother either.

13 February 2019

The Keystones - Faded Flowers/ Psychedelic Prayer

Ultra obscure and perplexing organ driven Dutch 'psychedelic' 45

Label: Omega
Year of Release: 1968

Here's a mystery for you all. This is one of those 45s barely anyone seems to own a copy of, but nonetheless isn't especially valuable. This, on first inspection, seems slightly unbelievable. Any psychedelic record - even if it only features a pub singer singing a pop standard with some heavy studio phasing - seems to go for at least a tenner these days. So what's the issue here?

In answer to my self-posed question, I suspect it's because The Keystones were only ever really a psychedelic group in their own minds. Pre-empting the trend for ebay spivs claiming anything with a 1967 release date is a "PSYCH RARITY!" they've released a track with a flip called "Psychedelic Prayer" here which doesn't really tick many boxes on the "Psych or Not" electric lemonade test sheet. True, there's an organ high in the mix on both sides, but it's more Bontempi than Farfisa, and beyond that these songs are just mellow, tuneful little jams with classical influences.

The flip is inevitably the most interesting, in that it features a primitive kind of rap which seems to act as a psychedelic incantation over the  Bontempi riffs. I'm quite sure I know roughly what The Keystones "were on", and it's nothing stronger than Tizer.

10 February 2019

Reupload - Jackie Lee - Space Age Lullaby/ Sleep

Fantastic piece of 70s futurism for an ICI Pharmaceuticals project

Label: ICI Pharmaceuticals Division
Year of Release: 1972

Jackie Lee is no stranger to this blog. Back in March 2012 we focussed on the dual-headed kinderpop sensation "Inigo Pipkin/ End of Rainbow", the B-side of which still causes outbreaks of wistful melancholy in me despite the fact that I'm almost certainly not the target audience. 

Lee is probably most known for the "Rupert The Bear" theme so far as the general public are concerned, and that's a pity. She cut a number of knockout singles throughout the sixties and seventies, of which the Northern Soul favourite "I Gotta Be With You" highlights her strengths most keenly. A fantastic and highly expressive vocalist, it's unsurprising that she found herself in demand for soundtrack and session work when the "proper pop career" failed. 

"Space Age Lullaby" is one of the odder Lee efforts, being a Bowie-influenced ballad produced for the Savlon Babycare range (say that sentence aloud, bounce it around the room, revel in how ludicrous it sounds). ICI Pharmaceuticals whisked her into the studio to beautifully whisper lines like "Put another ring around Saturn, space age boy" and "Will you circle the stars incredibly suited/ in silver with fish bowls for eyes", all while backed by a lush arrangement. While it should be the usual cheap plastic junk which is so often thrown off the corporate promotional production line, it's actually a delightful product of its era, filled with wide-eyed wonder and naiveté, embracing the future rather than fearing it. Clearly addressed to a small child, it's sad to consider that we wouldn't harbour such thoughts about a new-born now - we'd just keep our fingers crossed that the future stayed environmentally and economically stable. 

6 February 2019

Pacific Drift - Water Woman/ Yes You Do

Lovely piece of simple, mellow hippy pop from Manchester prog outfit

Label: Deram
Year of Release: 1970

Here's yet another track that originally appeared on the "Great British Psychedelic Trip" compilation series, but since seems to have fallen out of circulation. Perhaps that's not too surprising. In those environs, it sounded ever so slightly unBritish - it was originally recorded by American heavies Spirit, after all - and shot through with a mellow, countrified sheen rather than the hooky, phased pop of the other tracks.

While it never felt as if it quite fitted in there, as a stand-alone single it sounds far, far better than I remember, and the group find a ridiculous number of things to do with the simple song structure. By the time the tinkling piano enters towards the end of the track, you'd have to be a dedicated misery-guts not to raise a smile.

The flip-side isn't bad either, with Pacific Drift showing off their more natural bluesy leanings. They were, in fact, a progressive blues-rock group from Manchester consisting of Lawrence Arendes on drums, Larry Harrop on bass, Graham Harrop on guitar, Barry Reynolds on violin, guitar and vocals, Brian Chapman on keyboards and vocals, Dave Davani on horns and Jack Lancaster on "woodwind".