Lovely piece of vaguely psychedelic sixties pop with soul B-side
Year of Release: 1968
A bit of a mystery disc this, but a lovely one nonetheless. On the A-side, the intriguingly titled "Miss Anne (Ain't That Kind Of Man)" is - perhaps disappointingly - a lyrical tale of a haughty lady after a wealthy suitor, and not an "Arnold Layne" styled story. Giddy orchestral arrangements, chirpy fairground organs and strummed acoustic guitars give the whole thing a late sixties hippy pop vibe, and it has a chorus with such a heavy hook that it nudges the track slightly towards the bubblegum side of the street as well.
Confusingly, the flip sounds so different that it could easily be the work of a different band, and I wouldn't be amazed to find out that it was. "Groovy Personality" is closer to soul-pop, with much more impassioned vocals and a less frivolous feel.
The fact that Paul Leka appears to be up to his neck in this work only adds to my suspicions that this is a studio group. Leka has also worked as a producer and arranger with The Lemon Pipers, Steam, Peppermint Rainbow, The Left Banke and The Palace Guard, and for a time seemed to be everyone's go-to guy for luxurious, paisley pop arrangements. Famously, he also penned "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and "Green Tambourine", both huge hits of the era. Later on, he also worked with REO Speedwagon, which fits the general story less well but is a interesting fact to throw out nonetheless.
There's certainly no connection here to the New Orleans group Zebra who had a number of records released on Atlantic in the eighties, despite the fact that their songs were also credited to a different "R. Jackson" (Randy Jackson).
Nor, obviously, are they the Russian mod and sixties covers band of the same name. Perhaps we should leave it at that before we all get really confused, and just enjoy this music while the weather feels right for it.