27 December 2013

Reupload - Five Go Down To The Sea? - Singing In Braille EP

Label: Creation
Year of Release: 1985

This entry has largely been triggered by me uncovering a review of Creation's first fifty singles over on the mothballed Stylus Magazine website. In this particular retrospective, the resident critic Todd Hutlock states that it is one of the worst pieces of vinyl Creation ever issued, and dismisses the whole affair very tartly indeed, ranking them alongside The Legend in the 'Alan McGee blind spot' stakes.

As you will doubtless appreciate, I seldom get a cob on when people reveal wildly different musical tastes to my own. If this were my general inclination, there would be whole days or possibly weeks when I'd do little more than walk around London foaming at the mouth, demanding to know why Misty's Big Adventure weren't occupying the Christmas number one slot, or why perfectly good friends of mine have been known to state that The Stereophonics are a good band. It's not worth it, and it's easier just to relax, have a nice glass of sherry and allow others to feel differently from your good self, however outright wrong they may be.

For some reason, this particular piece did get me rattled, though. I happen to believe that "Singing in Braille" is actually one of the best early Creation singles there is. Whilst it doesn't quite top "Velocity Girl" by Primal Scream or "Ballad of the Band" by Felt, it is a seriously unique, charged and thrilling bit of work. There's nothing very "Creation" about it in sound, this is true - there's none of the dalliances with walls of feedback which The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slaughter Joe or Meat Whiplash treated us to, and nor are the lo-fi retro-sixties garage jangles overly apparent. What the track does have instead is a decidedly angular, dischordant thrust, with spitting Screaming Lord Sutch styled vocals, wobbly basslines and sledgehammer rhythms. Whilst it does have a chorus of sorts, the entire structure is as gloriously messy as the sleeve, seemingly hanging by a thread but holding together nonetheless. The energy you get from watching good musicians improvise is also apparent here - you expect the entire act to collapse, but instead everything holds together, and is shot through with adrenalin.

Cork's "Five Go Down to The Sea?" would probably have been more at home on Ron Johnson Records than Creation, having a similar style to a great many of their acts. The brilliant biography of Creation "My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize" hints that McGee found the band impossible to work with, his doubts possibly being raised when he went around to their houseshare for dinner and was presented with a plate of Jelly Babies.

However easy they were to deal with - and I'd be willing to bet they would have presented anybody a few challenges - they did create a fantastic noise which they allegedly felt was partly cribbed by Stump at a later date. Sadly, the band ceased to be in 1989 when the frontman Finbarr Donnelly drowned in Hyde Park serpentine pond whilst drunk. There are, to the best of my knowledge, no CD retrospectives available of the band despite numerous vinyl EP issues worming their way on to shop stalls, and that's something somebody should consider rectifying. In the meantime, here's what I consider to be their best moment.

1. Singing in Braille
2. Aunt Nelly
3. Silk Brain Worm Women

(This blog entry was originally uploaded in December 2009).

21 December 2013

The Pipkins - Pipkins Maxi Party

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1970

The Pipkins were an absurd and frankly faintly irritating novelty group created by songwriting supremo Roger Greenaway working in tandem with sometime Edison Lighthouse (and Brotherhood of Man and Flower Pot Men) singer Tony Burrows.  "Gimme Dat Ding" went top ten in both the USA and the UK as numerous people wigged out to the sounds of two respected music industry men putting on silly voices.  Like a high-budget version of your Dad and Uncle's drunken Christmas turn after the last dregs of Vermouth have been supped from the bottle, it remains something of an anomaly. The saloon room piano boogie may have slightly helped invent Lieutenant Pigeon, but beyond that the hit is something of a solitary twig on pop's family tree (and perhaps thank God for that).

Given the international success of "Ding", it's probably not that surprising that The Pipkins brand continued for several years as Burrows, Greenaway and various record labels tried to milk the concept for more hits.  There was even a long-playing record where you could apparently hear the pair's footsteps walking down into the distance as the run-out grooves pulled the needle towards the record's end.

Of all the examples I've heard, however, this single remains the most ludicrous.  The third outing for the project, "Maxi Party" tried to get the pair to do a big hits medley, but sounds utterly deranged - too deranged to sell, in fact - and actually genuinely funny.  Sounding less like Jive Bunny and more akin to Vic and Bob's bizarre approximation of Paul Simon and Neil Sedaka, Burrows and Greenaway growl and squeak through "Mama Told Me Not To Come", "Give Me Just A Little More Time", and "In The Summertime", backed by a cheap and nasty, out-of-tune sounding piano.  I admit that side one is probably all you need to hear to get the gist of the joke, but there is something strangely delightful about hearing grown men with falsetto voices squealing through Randy Newman and Chairman of the Board songs with all the respect of a demolition crew.

Perhaps to prove that the whole thing was just a big jape and there were no hard feelings intended, Greenaway even kicks two of his own compositions in the balls, namely "My Baby Loves Lovin'" and "Melting Pot", the latter of which descends into scatological humour and leaves the single nowhere to go but off the turntable.  Nice work, lads, and it's pleasing to know that your careers survived this strange diversion, but please don't reform under this guise and make any more records of this ilk.

18 December 2013

They Said There'd Be Peace On Earth

It's often the tradition at this time of year for me to slip into my Santa Claus outfit and throw various vintage flop singles out of my grotto for all of you to enjoy.  However, I won't be bothering this year.  Why not?  Well, because I posted up a lot of Christmas entries last year at a rapid rate and they remain among the least read on this blog.  As a result, I guessed you weren't really all that interested.

They're all still live and waiting to be read and appreciated, though, so if you do decide you're interested please click on the Xmas link and go hither and hear the sleigh bells.  A normal common-or-garden "Left and to the Back" entry will follow in due course, or at least something as "normal" as this blog gets.

Apologies also to any readers who noticed the technical problems we were having with some of the mp3s in preview mode this week.  It looks as if they've been fixed now, but if anything unusual happens, please let me know.

14 December 2013

The Outer Limits - Dark Side Of The Moon/ Black Boots

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1971

The Outer Limits are no strangers to this blog, having been covered around this time last year on a segment about popsike Christmas records. Having Jeff Christie (of "Yellow River" fame) on lead vocals and having issued one killer 45 on Deram in 1967 ("Just One More Chance") they never really seemed to realise their full potential commercially. 

By 1971 Christie had already gone off to sing about peculiar coloured rivers on hits of his own, so it's not clear if this single contains the remaining line-up of The Outer Limits carrying on regardless, is a studio out-take from before Christie's departure, or another band entirely - but whatever the facts, it's the B-side we're most interested in.  The A-side is a piece of early seventies pop so shiny and plasticky you can almost see your face in it, and while it has a lot of bounce, it also has all the drive, emotion and conviction of a breakfast cereal advert.  It's safe to say that it did not inform the direction of Pink Floyd's seminal album of the same name.

On the other hand, The B-side "Black Boots" is one of those moody instro-groovers you more commonly tend to find on sixties flipsides, but more interestingly still the bass-line hook is nearly note-for-note identical to The Stranglers "Nice 'n' Sleazy".  I doubt Guildford's most terrifying band deliberately stole it, but it is another example (alongside Leatherhead's "Gimme Your Money Please") of how many traces of the men in black could be found in pre-punk recordings.  Maybe Bob Stanley was right when he wrote in his excellent book "Yeah Yeah Yeah - The Story of Modern Pop" that the main thing linking the band to the punk movement is that they seemed like a nasty bunch of bastards.   

Thanks to Planet Mondo for pointing out the riff some time back, and apologies for the pops and crackles on the copy I managed to find.

11 December 2013

Barking & Houndsditch Choral Society - Queen of the Alley Dogs/ Dog Rock

Label: Track
Year of Release: 1973

God knows what it is, but the novelty of records consisting of singing dogs never quite wore thin for the music industry.  First there was the infamous Singing Dog novelty hit of 1957, then in the eighties Simon Cowell had a crack with Wonderdog, and between the two was this ridiculous effort on the otherwise highly credible and rockist Track Records label.

Given that Pete Townshend wrote a single called "Dogs" with The Who and apparently toyed with the idea of fleshing out the story of a London dog racing track across a concept album, it would be tempting to try and pretend this was some kind of lost Who off-cut.  With Terence Stamp in the credits here and his brother Chris Stamp responsible for managing The Who, the plot thickens further.  All this  evaporates when you check the rest of the credits and actually hear the damn thing, though - producer Ian Green has previously bothered "Left and to the Back" with the tragic Microbe single "Groovy Baby" and has no connections with the band, mainly working across the pop world.  The rest of the credits are equally unpromising.

From this we can only deduce that Track Records, for reasons known only to themselves, thought it might be a wheeze to hurl this novelty single out into an indifferent world.  As singles of its kind go, it's decently executed.  Technology had certainly moved on significantly since The Singing Dogs, and these canines really sound like they're going for it.  For real, dudes.  Do you need to hear it more than once, though?  No.  And nor am I going to waste an evening dissecting its contents, as that's a bridge too far even for me.  

The B-side, however, could be called an instrumental groover if you're feeling particularly optimistic or happen to be in the mood for getting everyone's hopes up on ebay.  Whatever, woof woof woof.  For now, I'll just file this single under "peculiar music industry anomalies".

7 December 2013

H.T. - You And Me/ Love Can Wait

Label: Polydor
Year of Release: 1966

It's fair to say that bands from the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar have not been widely chronicled in the great encyclopaedia of pop.  The island has in the past hosted major rock festivals and concerts, but its homegrown talent hasn't really made any significant impact globally.  

H.T. were a group otherwise occasionally known as The Valverde Brothers (or is it the other way around?) who had a crack at pop success with this single.  The minimal nature of it is immediately striking without being particularly hard-hitting.  The verses consist of a simple pounding rhythm, the repetition of one finger-picked chord and something close to political protest singing.  "We're gonna plant an acorn, yeah… when it grows in eighty years, remind them of you and me!" they holler, then eventually the chorus gains a tiny bit of traction only for the song to quickly slide straight back into minimalism again, the verses acting as peculiar strips of emptiness between the main action.  It's structurally bizarre, but not threatening or snotty enough to be classified as garage or mod, far too meaty and beaty to be psychedelic, and despite its best intentions the jolliness of the vocals makes it seem like some peculiar hybrid of "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" and The Eyes.  I like it for being so strange within the confines of quite a bubblegum performance, but I suspect it might be an acquired taste.

The Valverde Brothers never really had any success in the UK, but they did eventually achieve notoriety through their production and songwriting work on Peter Wyngarde's worrying album "When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head".  That certainly proved that they had the chops for creating even more adventurous and peculiar work than this, but (perhaps for the best) their career as studio-men for politically incorrect perv-pop records was abandoned quite swiftly, and they eventually achieved minor success in mainland Europe with a string of disco records in the late seventies.  

4 December 2013

Orphan - Julie Isn't Julie In The Bath/ Timebombs

Label: Brilliant
Year of Release: 1983

Sometimes a record catches my eye in a record store or ebay which I'm aware already has a bit of a low-level internet buzz about it. By this, I mean that a simple Google search reveals all kinds of questions about its origins or raves on internet forums, but no actual real information.

This is one such (well, I wouldn't have bothered with that opening paragraph if it weren't, not unless I was trying to be all post-modern and clever).  I must admit to being aware of its reputation but never having heard a single note of it until the needle hit the groove.  It soon became apparent what the fuss was about - this is pristine eighties pop with a distinctly post-punk and psychedelic twist.  Strict and even yet somehow quirky beats and synth splashes rub up against smooth guitar riffs, utterly peculiar lyrics (why Julie isn't Julie in the bath is never quite explained) and a faintly uneasy, film noir atmosphere.  A subtle chorus also creeps up on you more and more with each play, until the entire thing has infected your brain and won't leave.  It's unassuming to begin with, then all-consuming.  Only the squeaky synth instrumental section spoils the production values, but I suspect that probably seemed cutting edge when the song was recorded in 1981.

It would seem that Orphan formed in Birmingham at some point around 1978 or 1979, containing members Phill Dunn, Phil Campion, Pete Dunn, Phil Vickers, Keith Jones, Trevor Wigley and Steve Leighton.  They had become a solid fixture on the Birmingham gig circuit by the early eighties, and seemed to get themselves attached to the label Swoop, which was run by Lee Sound Studios in Walsall.     At least three singles ("RSVPU", "Nervous" and "Love on the Lichfield Line") slipped out on this imprint, but in the manner of most boutique labels run by recording studios, the connection failed to generate any hits for them.  It seems as if this track was then licensed to Brilliant Records in 1983 in an attempt to generate a better chance of chart action. Far from being a super major with clout, though, Brilliant was an indie distributed by Spartan, and the deserved outcome of a hit single never materialised. Also, by 1983 there's a chance that the woozy New Wave sounds on display here were starting to feel a bit dated, and had it been released in 1981 when it was actually recorded, the outcome may have been different.

However, we are where we are.  The band seems to have packed it in shortly afterwards, and Phill Dunn moved on to become a film director in Singapore, still occasionally recording music with his new psychedelic rock inspired band Roxy Rejects.

Assuming this was Orphan's last release - and I can't find anything to suggest otherwise - it would seem as if they left the music business at least having given it their best shot.

1 December 2013

Flavor - Dancing In The Street/ Comin' On Home

Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1969

Sly and the Family Stone aren't discussed nearly enough these days in the discourse of music critics, and when they are I'm always left with the impression that some feel that they were a bit of a dead-end at the time, that nobody was doing anything similar.  In actual fact, both in the UK  and the USA, the rather restrictive term "soul rock" was briefly bandied around to describe all kinds of other artists who might conceivably be thrown into the same barrel.  Needless to say, none were as successful. 

The Washington-based Flavor were one such act who only managed three singles, of which this was their last.  Earlier in their career their approximation of soul had actually sounded frighteningly close to the Small Faces at times (check out "Heart-Teaser" on YouTube) but on this disc, you can hear something a bit closer to the roots than that, especially on the hand-clapping, gospel-inspired flip.

"Dancing In The Street" is a fantastic little rave-up, though, far better than Bowie and Jagger's later version in the eighties, and managing to bring some new ideas to the mix rather than being an imitation.  This rolls a lot more freely than the Martha and the Vandellas version, and while it's not the better option - I happen to think that the Vandella's effort is one of the best Motown sides going - it doesn't shame the original material at all.  You're left with the impression that Flavor could have had a decent career with the right push, but for whatever reason, that just didn't happen.

And who were they? If anyone knows, please get in touch.

26 November 2013

Winter and Christmas Jumble DJ'ing

Yes, it's true.  I'll be back at the legendary Boogaloo pub in London on Saturday 30th November DJ'ing with Sean Bright at the "Can't Buy Me Love" winter jumble market.  Stalls, cakes, booze and the usual mix of soul, mod-pop, garage and girl groups will be in the offing, and if you're really lucky you might get to hear a sneak preview of some future "Left and to the Back" entries (I'm not saying this seriously expecting anyone to travel out of their way for that reason alone, by the way. Or even anyone who lives nearby, actually).

The event runs from 12:30 - 5:30pm, at The Boogaloo on 312 Archway, London N6 5AT.  The Facebook invite, for those of you who are on Facebook, is here.

And if that weren't enough, I'll also be DJ'ing at a Christmas Club market in Crouch End from 12 - 5pm on Sunday 8th December.  The venue is Earl Haig Hall, 18 Elder Avenue, London N8 9TH, and will probably (definitely?) have mulled wine and pies instead of cake and common-or-garden booze.  Again, get ye to the Facebook invite.

See you there. 

24 November 2013

Hard Horse - Let It Ride/ Hang Old Freddy

Label: D'Art
Year of Release: 1971

Back in the eighties and nineties psych/ mod record collectors and DJs were horribly picky about seventies singles, leaving many perfectly good bits of beaty or freaky goodness rotting in the remainder bins.  "If it wasn't issued between 1962 - 1969," seemed to be the thinking, "then it probably isn't worth anyone's while".

Most of us have wised up since, realising that while very few examples of pure psych or mod records were issued after the sixties, discs did slide out which kept some of the influences bubbling underneath.  Take this single, for example - beneath the hollered, gravelly, country rock vocals lies an insistent and nagging beat and riff which is stylistically not far off a recognised classic like Calum Bryce's "Lovemaker" and maybe closer still to some of Tom Jones's more dance floor friendly outings.

Hard Horse seem as if they were probably a studio project rather than a proper gigging outfit, but were lead by Paul Thomas who previously had cut singles with the Coventry psych-pop act Peppermint Circus.  Peter Shelley also seems to have been involved in a major capacity here, co-writing and producing "Let It Ride".  Shelley had already had a career acting as a talent scout for Decca records, but by this point had left the organisation to begin work as an independent writer and producer.  This phase of his career was actually a minor blip before he co-created Magnet Records with Michael Levy and wrote their first release in 1973, Alvin Stardust's smash hit "My Coo Ca Choo".  You can just about hear some minor similarities here, but stylistically the two songs are some way apart.  "Let It Ride" has grit in its mouth and damage on its mind, whereas "My Coo Ca Choo" is all tinsel and fizz (though a perfectly good record for it).

The B-side "Hang Old Freddy" is a bit scuffed up (apologies for that) and appears to be a one-take studio spoof of "Hang On Sloopy".  It's safe to say that it was probably a bit of an afterthought. 

As for what became of Paul Thomas - I have no idea. If anyone knows, they should feel free to drop a comment.

20 November 2013

Les 409 - Reviens Reviens (Hello Goodbye)/ Un Amour Complique

Label: RCA Victor Canada International
Year of Release: 196?

If the Canadian band Les 409 are known for anything much at all outside their home nation (and possibly even the Quebec region) it's probably their single "They Say/ Born In Chicago", two fuzzy pieces of garage pop which are archived over on YouTube.  The single is ranked up there with Nuggets-compiled fellow Canucks The Haunted's "125", and probably would get more plays by DJs in mod/ garage clubs if only copies of the damn record weren't so hard to come by.

Back when they formed in 1963 it's true to say that Les 409 were raw and bluesy, but eventually this slick recording slipped out.  Carefully produced by Easy Listening legend (and enigma) Martin Martin, the A-side is a French translation of The Beatles single "Hello Goodbye".  The instrumental arrangements are a very sympathetic facsimile of the original, but the vocals push harder and seem slightly more abrasive - and, regrettably, sometimes less in-tune - than the original.  Like most Beatles covers, it takes few liberties and might be regarded as completely inessential if you ignore the fact that a French version of the Fab Four's most lyrically simple song is an entertainingly absurd idea.

Much better material is to be found on the flip.  "Un Amour Complique" is a wonderfully rich piece of swinging orchestrated pop which is clearly more influenced by the sixties French pop scene than anything in the UK.  Filled with beautiful flourishes and subtly addictive melodies, it sees both the band and Martin on top form, a far cry from their ballsy garage roots but still creating great music which is dramatic in an altogether different way.

If anyone knows what  became of Les 409 please let me know.  There's plenty of information about their period of activity online, but not much about what became of them all afterwards.

17 November 2013

The Daytonas - Faster Gimpo Faster Kill! Kill! Kill!

Label: Kalevala
Year of Release: 1997

Some time ago, you may remember me talking about Zodiac Mindwarp and Bill Drummond of the KLF collaborating on a project in Finland consisting entirely of imaginary bands releasing one-off singles in limited runs of 500 copies on the here-today-gone-tomorrow label Kalevala records.  I have already written about one of these items, Dracula's Daughter's "Candy", and I was absolutely staggered to see this one turn up in a local charity shop for £1 recently. Obscure limited edition singles with links to the KLF don't just turn up in thrift stores with dismissive price tags attached, after all - that's the stuff of fantasies, like Beach Boys acetates being left on garden walls.

It's an especially thrilling turn-up for the books as this is one of the prime cuts of Drummond's last real music industry folly.  While some of these Kalevala singles trough into mediocrity or just plain silliness, "Faster Gimpo Faster Kill! Kill! Kill!" is a spot-on parody of early sixties surf guitar music, featuring throttling guitar riffs, a squeaking organ, a stripped back drum kit, dramatic flourishes and hollering backing vocals akin to the Red Army Choir.  Only the stereo mix betrays the modern origins of the record and makes it sound like a nineties rather than sixties construction, the roughness and rawness of the sound is in all other respects perfect.  If this were an actual obscure sixties record, there's no question it would have made it on to this blog on its own merits.

The B-side, on the other hand, isn't a proper remix as one might suspect but the original track overloaded with sixties studio effects.  Even Joe Meek would have stopped short of calling it a good idea.

As for why the Kalevala project existed in the first place, Drummond is oddly forthcoming in his book "45": "The fact was, none of these bands existed anywhere but in our imagination.  Mind you, that's where all great bands exist. Being in a band or into a band is all about building, living out and worshipping (or loathing) a myth.  Doing it this way, Z and I were safe from confusing our various alter egos with our real selves".  

He goes on further: "When people ask me, 'Don't you miss the music business, Bill?' I try to tell them that the music business is about making unsuccessful bands successful.  Successful bands by their very definition are as interesting as packets of cornflakes.  No, it's strange, weird, fucked-up, unsuccessful pop music I dig.  Deluded pop music that wants to be successful and can't understand why it isn't…. records from places far away, by people who have no understanding of how things work in the worlds of London or LA but think they do. Records with crap sleeves".  

And that, my friends, feels like the perfect statement to start "Left and to the Back" rolling again.

As for my lucky charity shop find, you may ask whether I slyly dropped the organisation some extra money to make up for their pricing mistake.  To be honest, I haven't yet.  This is because at the beginning of the very same month I found this record, I also dropped a rare KLF record into another charity shop in another part of London as a gift to them.  Something about the serendipity of The Daytonas seven-inch turning up later on made me believe that perhaps this was all supposed to happen. But you're right, I'll probably write them a cheque soon.

8 November 2013

Back Soon

Hello folks.

I realise that "Left and to the Back" has been down for far longer than I intended it to be, and for this I apologise.  I conveniently timed my online break just before a fractured elbow (meaning that one handed typing was a massive inconvenience for awhile) and then a house move which left me without internet access for a long while (and more importantly left all my records completely unsorted in large wooden  boxes for an even longer period).

But I do mean it when I say the blog will be back soon, probably in a week or two.  I've already ripped several singles from vinyl with the intention of uploading them here.  What won't happen is a return to normal service, I'm afraid.  The days of me researching and creating at least two entries a week are impractical and unworkable for a whole host of reasons, so in future entries will appear as and when I feel like creating them.  This should also prevent me from uploading borderline mediocre stuff purely for the sake of keeping the flow of entries going.

As Adrian Mole once said: "Hold on to your hats, kids, you'll be in for a magic ride".  Why didn't he run a blog for old mp3s instead of keeping that diary, eh?  With language like that, he'd have fitted right in.  

14 April 2013

Rest Cure

After over five years of continual updates, I've decided to take a rest from this blog for a few months.  There are a myriad of rather boring, trivial reasons for doing so (not least the fact that maintaining this is more time-consuming than it probably looks) but two specific things are definitely weighing on my mind at the moment:

1. The purpose of this blog was always to attempt to highlight tracks which were otherwise commercially unavailable, and preferably not available on other sites as well.  In March 2008 this was shockingly easy to do, but as time has pressed on it's become more and more difficult.  Spotify launched later in 2008 and began expanding their catalogue, then in the last couple of years record companies have become much more adept at exploring the darker corners of their archives (you wouldn't believe just how much obscure stuff is on iTunes is now - Candy's "Baby Baby I Still Love You" anyone? I know, I thought that one would be unavailable as well). This has meant that finding a buried disc which is worth writing about has become an incredibly tough and often expensive mission.  You don't want to know how much I paid for a copy of Willy Zango's "Hot Rod"....

2. I do have a pile of odd records sat in my lounge at home, but none are particularly worth writing about. They're largely dull, and would mean that the next two months (at least) would be taken up with me waffling on about discs I doubt anyone will be interested in.  If I can't convince myself about them, how will I convince anyone else?  That said, if anyone does want a copy of The Best of Noel Edmonds' Funny Phone Calls, I have at least digitised that one...

It may be that I have to rethink the way this blog looks and is run, reverting to Soundcloud or Tumblr or even starting an entirely different kind of music blog with a different tack, or starting a podcast - I'm not sure.  But I'll leave these thoughts to settle for a bit, and in the meantime I'd be grateful if you stayed linked to "Left and to the Back" until it's clear what I plan to do.

See you soon.

11 April 2013

Reupload - Le De Das - Morning, Good Morning

Label: HMV
Year of Release: 1972

I've previously mentioned the fact that one rarely finds genuine rarities in random piles whilst visiting second hand stores. There is only one tale I can tell which contradicts that fact, and it harks back to a time I was staying and working in Melbourne, and living close by to a giant thrift store on Chapel Street known as The Bazaar.

One of the stall holders in this giant indoor market had a wooden crate filled with old seven inch singles. Much of it was the usual fare you'd expect to find - Cliff Richard hits, The Beatles, Jimmy Little (remember how we talked about him?), and the usual load of old orchestral cover versions of the hits of the day. Nestling in that box, however, were some peculiarities that nearly made my heart stop. An Australian pressing of the Standells. Some Kinks singles with A-sides which were never issued in that form in the UK. Led Zeppelin singles.

Sadly, in each and every single case, I'd pick it up and it would be the same old story - whilst the singles all had unharmed sleeves, the condition of the contents was shockingly bad. I nearly cried when some US garage single looked as if somebody had been roller skating over the top of it - even with the naked eye, I could see the thing was completely unplayable. Had I been back in London, I might have bought these just as a talking point, especially as I had no knowledge that some of them even existed - there was absolutely no point in shipping them back from Australia, though.

I managed to find two exceptions in the box, a Led Zeppelin seven inch of "Black Dog", and the single you see above. The former was slightly warped around the run-in grooves, the latter torn around the label (as you can see) and slightly scratched, but still playable.

In case you're unaware, The La De Das were a New Zealand band who were quite successful in their home country for a period, and are best known in the UK for their storming garage punk single "How Is The Air Up There?", which found its way on to the Nuggets II box set. One of the finest garage singles not to emerge from America, it consists of sheer fuzz mayhem, a squawking organ, and some of the most sneering class warrior lyrics of the period about a wealthy girl.

By the seventies, however, the La De Das sounded like an almost entirely different band, to the extent that I found myself wondering if there were two bands of that name when I first played "Morning, Good Morning". It sounds nothing like a bunch of pissed-off blokes from Detroit singing through gritted teeth and smashing away at their instruments, and sounds more like a laidback bunch of bearded good old boys from Alabama playing with maximum proficiency. It was almost as if they'd spent their entire careers slowly travelling south across the USA, shifting their style as they went. It wasn't a hit in New Zealand, and they never did make it in the UK either, although a cover version they did of The Beatles "Come Together" apparently came close... until the Beatles released their version as a single (yet another example of this ludicrous sixties phenomenon for your notebooks.)

To be bluntly honest, the seventies La De Das leave me quite cold, but the below mp3s may be of interest to some people who are just interested to hear what became of their sound.

(I originally uploaded this entry in July 2008, and I don't have a great deal to add at this point).

10 April 2013

"Utter Shite!" - Saturday 27th April

Hallo Spaceboy. As a reader of "Left and to the Back", you might be interested in the fact that I'm DJ'ing until late playing nothing but one hit wonders and novelty records at a night called "Utter Shit!" (hosted by Richard Tyrone Jones - pictured) on 27th April.  This is the first (and probably the last) time that the darkest, dingiest corners of my vinyl collection have been aired in public, so it's sure to be an event of sorts.

But if listening to flop Eurovision Song Contest entries, ditties from the "That's Life!" team and French seventies electronica isn't your bag, there will also be a wide range of  spoken word performers delivering three minutes and 33 seconds of pure nonsense and rubbish, among them Tim Wells, Lee Nelson, Dildo Dando, James Ross, Dan Simpson, Leanne Moden, Alan Wolfson, Alain English, Dave Bryant (that's me), Mark Dean Quinn, Michael MacIntyre (apparently) & Christian Ward (apparently).

It's £3.33 entrance at the Star of Kings, 126 York Way, London N1 0AX (nearest tube Kings Cross).  There's also a special prize bingo session.  The Facebook invite page is here.

For the sake of entertainment, and also in a possibly vain attempt to ensure that I still have some friends left at the end of the evening, I cannot guarantee that the contents of my DJ'ing will be 100% shite - there may be some actual beef in this particular value lasagne.  But I won't accept any requests for refunds. 

8 April 2013

The Cavalry Twill - All You Need Is Love

Label: MGM
Year of Release: 1967

Another Beatles cover for your delectation, good readers, except unlike most Beatles covers this does actually attempt to shake the original arrangement up a bit to create something fresh-sounding.  This version of "All You Need Is Love" is an instrumental which attempts to outdo George Martin in terms of ambitious arrangements, adding frills and flourishes along the way which in places make the original tune reasonably hard to recognise if you're only half-listening.  For all that, however, it still manages to poke its head through all the tinsel when it comes to the chorus, and given that "All You Need Is Love" was never the finest Beatles single in my book - the "event" of the live global satellite broadcast overshadowing the rather basic tune - it's an easy track to take liberties with.

This was almost certainly a one-off studio experiment with leanings towards the easy listening market, and so far as I can ascertain The Cavalry Twill didn't release anything else, or at least not under that name.  It would seem that Neil Levenson was heavily involved in this - he is credited for production work and the gentle song "The Girl" on the flip.  He was a songwriter based in the USA who is perhaps best known for penning the song "Denise" for his group Randy and the Rainbows, which later became a huge hit for Blondie under the title "Denis".  This really is just a tiny footnote in his discography next to that effort.

4 April 2013

Willy Zango And The Mechanics - Hot Rod/ Goom

Label: Jam
Year of Release: 1973

Sometimes, just sometimes, rock thrills come from the dumbest of places.  For some people that might involve The Ramones thrashing away whilst throwing idiot slogans about the shop, for others that might be primal sixties garage rock, but in truth, the seventies glam rock movement had plenty of slack-jawed brilliance to spare too.

This one is no exception.  Consisting initially of a burst of engine noise then bursting into stomping rhythms, buzzing and swooping analogue synth noises and men who were probably old enough to know better chanting "Hot Rod! Hot Rod, Hot Rod!" incessantly like children on a themed day out at Silverstone racing track, it's like The Peppers' "Pepper Box" smashing into an Earl Brutus recording session.  The first time I heard this, I found myself completely involuntarily pumping my fist in the air.

Willy Zango or his Mechanics failed to chart with this, but there was a follow-up single on DJM entitled "The Voice of Melody" which had "Hot Rod" on its B-side.  Peculiarly, "The Voice of Melody" appeared to be a protest song against dance-orientated music and its invasion against lilting melodic sounds, but it barely contained any itself, consisting instead of pissed-off gravelly vocals and a dumb riff.  It also wasn't very good, unfortunately.

I suspect that actor, songwriter and performer Kaplan Kaye, the author and producer of both sides on offer here, is responsible for all this daftness.  Kaye seems to have penned many seventies discs under a number of bizarre guises (among them Puzzle and Bendy Dog) and perhaps more credibly co-wrote the song "If I Was President" which was recorded by Wyclef Jean.  Less credibly, but more amusingly from our point of view, he also played on the John McEnroe baiting novelty smash "Chalk Dust - The Umpire Strikes Back".

I'm more impressed with this than either of those tunes, however, and I'm incredibly glad this brilliant piece of absurdity got out of the traps.

1 April 2013

The Village East - Building With A Steeple/ Tumblin' Down

Label: MGM
Year of Release: 1967

I'm not really too sure why or what's happened, but a freightload of American Sunshine Pop records - a lot of them on MGM, and almost all of them relatively obscure - seem to have washed up on British shores in recent months.  Some collectors assumed that this one never made it past the promo stage, for example, but here's the stock copy as living proof, live and at large in the UK.

"Building With A Steeple" is probably the best example I've found yet, scrubbing away any edgy credibility it might have with a Christian message and yet sounding so downright lovely it's hard to understand how anyone could resist.  There's not much originality present here as the vocal harmonies and arrangements echo the likes of The Mamas and Papas, but crucially it's not inferior to their work in any way and was clearly extremely unlucky not to have sold in greater quantities.  There's a yearning to the vocals and an intricacy to the delicately strummed and plucked arrangements which would soothe the most troubled soul, and like all the best West Coast sounds from the period it sounds simultaneously lush and sincere.  The very concept of sanctuary in a church on a blazing hot Californian day sounds thoroughly appealing here.

Sadly, The Village East didn't release any singles after this one effort, as apparently the lead singer (whose name I've been unable to locate) immediately left to pursue an unsuccessful career as a solo artist after this flopped.  There's a sense that a lot of potential was wasted here, and my guess is that if they'd released some more tracks of a similar quality they may have broken through.  As for the song, it was also recorded by The Eighth Day (with a near-identical arrangement) and Frank Sinatra Jr.

28 March 2013

Metal Mickey - Lollipop Lollipop/ Eugene (The Hollywood Monster Movie Fiend)

Label: EMI
Year of Release: 1978

Guilty confession time. As a small child, I was absolutely obsessed with Metal Mickey.  A Mickey Dolenz produced and directed television situation comedy pitched squarely at children, it appealed to my boyish fascination with robots (who I believed would be doing all the housework for us in a matter of a few years) and... I don't know what else, really.  I don't know for the pure and simple reason that having since seen some episodes as an adult, I'm gobsmacked by how awful it actually is.  No wonder that when I once revealed my childhood obsession to some friends in a pub (I favoured Metal Mickey stickers on my lunchbox over Star Wars ones any day of the week, screw all that Jedi bullshit) they fell around laughing.

In retrospect, "Metal Mickey" was a messy show consisting of scenery-chewing actors who looked as if they'd rather be somewhere else, and looks like a bizarre Vic Reeves or Harry Hill parody of eighties television these days.  It's also been observed by many commentators that the programme suffered from the insurmountable obstacle of metallic droid voices not being the best at delivering killer comedic lines - dry sarcasm a la Marvin might have worked, but Mickey specialised in sharp witticisms, all delivered in a Stephen Hawking voicebox effect, hence jokes that might actually have been quite good tended to sound akin to bland data-readouts.  When the man about the house (played by Michael Stainton) asked why the droid called him "Bootface", speculating that it might be because he's "shiny and practical", he received the reply "No, it's because you're old, thick and in need of patching".  Not a bad line, especially for children hungry for a bit of authority-figure baiting rudeness, but it loses a lot when delivered in a Radiohead "Fitter Happier" voice.

Way before situation comedy beckoned, however, Mickey was a periodic character on the children's morning show "Saturday Banana", and some of his 45s - because there were quite a few of them, believe it or not - stem from this period.  They are what you'd expect them to be, namely cheaply recorded novelty discs with Mickey droning upfront, like Kraftwerk for the kindergarten set.  Unlike the other robot issuing discs at this point, Marvin the Paranoid Android (who actually charted, unlike MM), there's not too much attention to detail here, and there's a sense that the session folk involved were watching the studio clock.  Still, it's a curious reminder of one person's vision of the future.  Who ever thought that futuristic robots would be so boxy, clunky and mechanical sounding?

Irene Handl was good, though.

25 March 2013

Shades of Blue - It Ain't No Use/ Where Did All The Good Times Go

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1965

Sadly, this isn't the best offering I could have served up from Newcastle's undersung beat heroes Shades of Blue. Why, that would be their electrified cover of Hoyt Axton's "Voodoo Blues", a brooding piece of pre-Jim Morrison blues rock which sounds as if it was recorded a lot later than its 1965 release date.  Regrettably, I've been trying to hunt down a reasonably priced copy of that for years to no avail.

This perfectly good double-sider, on the other hand, is no easier to come by but does at least retail at a more reasonable price for the cash-strapped.  It demonstrates that behind the creeping atmospherics of their other disc on Parlophone did lie something of a conventional beat pop sensibility (if a rather angst-ridden one).  The influence of fellow Geordies The Animals is clear, but on the flip "Where Did All The Good Times Go" there's a similar introspection to the kind Ray Davies was employing at the same time (though the similarity of the title to a celebrated Kinks track is probably a coincidence).  Nothing about either side screams "hit single", but this does seem to show that the band might have possibly had a crack at success had anyone persevered with them past their only two singles.

Not to worry.  Decca later picked them up (with an inevitably altered line-up) as The Toby Twirl in 1968 and they went on to record a number of rather more summery discs for them, including the much-compiled "Toffee Apple Sunday". None of their singles from that psych-pop period really stand up to "Voodoo Blues" in my opinion, which sounded challenging for the time whereas The Twirl sounded more like late arrivals to the hippy party.  But nonetheless, enormous respect is due to an act who had so much more going for them than the standard biogs and references would suggest, and certainly shouldn't be solely judged on their Decca output.

21 March 2013

Reupload - New Life - Strollin' Sunday Morning/ Only For Our Minds

Label: Amaret
Year of Release: 1968

Anyone who has ever heard volume two of the Garagelands compilation series could hardly fail to have noticed the New Life track on there, "Ha Lese (Le Di Khanna)".  One of the most vicious, hollering and downright addictive garage tracks out there, it's unutterably brilliant - a view shared by several friends of mine and even my mother!  That it has been reserved for a few fringe compilations and bootlegs and largely forgotten about seems somewhat sinful on the whole.

You can imagine my excitement when I found this waiting in the sixties singles section of a second hand record store, then, behind the pop hits and Cliff Richard discs.  Although the title "Strollin' Sunday Mornin'" didn't suggest more high throttle thrills, the B-side title "Only for Our Minds" sounded promising, and when I delicately put the needle on the record at home I hoped for something even half as good as the one song I'd heard by the act.

So then, revelation time... both sides are perfectly nice, paisley wrapped pieces of Californian guitar pop, but there's nothing to jolt the average listener in any way.  "Strollin' Sunday Mornin'" is chipper, summery and brassy, skipping along in a slightly dazy way, and "Only for Our Minds" is more of the same, with a slightly dated beat feel behind the West Coast hairiness.  Aficionados of sixties West Coast pop and people who are just curious about what else the band got up to may find these tracks worth a download, but sadly there's a reason why the majority of sixties rarities compilations haven't rushed forward to find them a place on their track listings.

Back when I first became aware of the New Life, I was mislead into believing that they were South American in origin - this is apparently untrue, and they were actually from Minneapolis, relocating to San Francisco to catch the passing wave of the hippy movement there in the late sixties.  They were responsible for the soundtrack to the "Sidehackers" biker film (see here), released three singles in total, then vanished without a word of explanation.  Other details - such as band personnel, and what they did before or after - remain very sketchy indeed.

As ever, more information would be appreciated, especially if it transpires there are other fantastic psychedelic New Life rockers in "the can" somewhere.

(This entry was originally uploaded in August 2009, and I think I was a little harsh on "Only For Our Minds" in retrospect.  True, it's not a patch on "Ha Lese...", but it's got a ragged feel and a spring in its step which does actually cause it to stand up to numerous repeated listens, perhaps more than I bargained for on the first couple of spins.  If you didn't download it at the time, it's here to listen to below).  

18 March 2013

Spunky Onion - Cookie Man (Parts 1 & 2)

Label: Contempo
Year of Release: 1974

"Cookie Man" is an utterly brilliant and much sought-after single which attempts to tempt all the ladies in the vicinity with the promise of "cookies".  As much as some horribly negative spins could be put upon this proposition (although it's no worse than "my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard") it's placed on top of a slick and downright irresistible funk groove.  An absolutely wonderful disc with a some marvellous horn section breaks, it was obviously too riff-based to really stand a chance in the British charts at the time, but it can still provoke action on a dancefloor to this day.

Whilst The Spunky Onion is a downright peculiar group name, this would seem to be largely the work of one Clarence Reid, aka Blowfly.  Reid wrote scores of R&B tracks for other artists throughout the 60s and 70s, and was known for sneaking out sexually explicit material of his own under the Blowfly moniker.  Some of that is argued to be the earliest examples of rapping on record - sadly, there's not any evidence of it on this example, but it's still a damn good track.

There's a brief interview trailer for the documentary "The Weird World of Blowfly" on Youtube.

14 March 2013

Jonathan's Experience - Mixed Up Foolish Girl/ Only Sixteen

Label: MGM
Year of Release: 1968

About the only thing you can glean from any research on "Jonathan's Experience" is that they were a "little known" group from Dallas, Texas.  That's it.  We know that they also did a cover of Kenny and the Kasuals' garage classic "I'm Gonna Make It", but further data is thin on the ground.

Something of a shame, because "Mixed Up Foolish Girl" - actually the B-side of this platter - is a piece of sunshine pop brimming over with rink-a-dink rhythms and wailing violins, bouncy and cheery from beginning to end.  It's no lost classic, but it's surprisingly obscure given its quality, especially in these days where just about every good sixties pop tune has been dug up and presented to the world.

The A-side is a slow, angst-ridden cover of the classic "Only Sixteen", but it's rather inessential, adding little to the original version.  However, it's not without its fans online.

If you know anything more about Jonathan's Experience, please do step forward and give me more information, I'd be really grateful.

11 March 2013

Austin Van Driver and The Morrismen - Salt & Vinegar

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1979

It's a work-in-progress bedroom demo for Blur's "Parklife"!  It's Mike Skinner of The Streets with a Casiotone demo of his missing chippy "dinnertime" track from "A Grand Don't Come For Free"!  It's Eddie Argos out of Art Brut doing an ironic advert for the British Potato Council!  It's Chas and Dave getting unusually belligerent and demanding in a Leytonstone Fish and Chip shop!  It's... well, it's all of these things, but it's actually none of these things as well.  Sorry.

However, we can definitely classify this as a curio from the arse-end of the life of Pye Records which was clearly meant to be a summer novelty pop smash.  Had a particularly influential daytime Radio One DJ taken a shine to this it probably would have been a hit, but we can only assume that they failed to see the potential - or rather, that Pye at this stage in their corporate lives were utterly incapable of getting anyone's attention at the Beeb.  As it stands, I've never seen an actual officially released version of this record for sale, only promo copies, which makes me wonder if it did ever get an official release.

There's something very cheesy and cheap about the record, and it's received thorough drubbings elsewhere on the Interweb, but I genuinely like it - it's unpretentious, snappy and decidedly silly, siphoning off the influences of Madness and Ian Dury that were credible at the time and squeezing them into a novelty blender.  The lyrics focussed entirely upon the act of putting salt and vinegar on chips are utterly facile and ridiculous, but sometimes pop music needs such idiocy.  Had it been even a minor hit, there's a strong probability it would have become awfully irritating very quickly, but as a flop it's harmless, cheerful and sprightly.

It's not clear who Austin Van Driver and the Morrismen were, but certainly the involvement of Phil Hampson on the songwriting credit is something of a giveaway to the fact that they were a one-off project.  Hampson has produced numerous pieces of soundtrack work and one-off novelty singles over the years, including "The Sparrow" by The Ramblers,  "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" by Brian and Michael, and (perhaps more credibly) the "Spiral Scratch" EP for The Buzzcocks.  This particular single is probably halfway between Brian & Michael and The Buzzcocks, and as bizarre as you'd expect given that.

7 March 2013

Injun Jo - Feel The Rhythm Inside/ Jawbone

Label: York Records
Year of Release: 1973

We've already (briefly) explored the career of Miki Anthony on this blog back when I uncovered a Mark Wirtz produced acetate of "Knight In White Armour", and this particular disc stems from a later part of his career when he found himself working for York Records, a subsidiary of Yorkshire Television.  

The A-side offers nothing unusual in the slightest, and is in fact a particularly sprightly piece of pop which was unlucky not to have been a hit.  "Feel The Rhythm Inside" has clattering drums, bass piano notes, an euphoric chorus and a general sense that all is well on the suburban dancefloor.  There's nothing radical or original about it, but it's a serviceable example of a particular strain of non-glam pop music that was faring reasonably well in Britain at the time.

Far more absurd is the B-side which can only be described as a country/ trucking song sung by daleks, or at the very least Miki Anthony doing a very good impersonation of a dalek.  The story behind this, so far as I can ascertain, is also a bit odd.  Earlier in 1973 York Records had slated a record for release by a group called The Daleks entitled "Feel It Inside" with "Jawbone" listed as the flip.  Copies of this have never actually been seen, and the qualified guess of most record collectors (and Doctor Who collectors) is that somebody at the Yorkshire media company got jittery about copyright violation and getting into trouble with the BBC.  This would have applied even if the single were issued on a standard record label, but one with close affiliations to their rival station ITV would surely have come in for a giant whacking from the legal beagles.  Whether "Feel It Inside" was a different version of this A-side sung in the voice of a dalek, the same track or another track entirely is impossible to say, and chances are only Miki Anthony or an ex-employee of York Records would be likely to know.  

Whatever the facts, the B-side is a right old racket, and the humorous novelty factor of daleks trucking across the country exterminating quickly loses its appeal.  It's bizarre, make no mistake, but has all the hallmarks of an off-the-cuff flip side, which is a shame given the potential of the idea.  

4 March 2013

The Denims - The Adler Sock

Label: The Adler Company/ Columbia
Year of Release: 1965

Rock and pop groups have always had an uneasy relationship with corporate sponsorship, to the extent that even in the present day (where the majority of musicians will allow their work to soundtrack adverts without shame) it puts a cringe on the face of many.  I myself have an ambivalent and perhaps hypocritical stance to the use of music on adverts - if it's The Fall, Clinic or Vashti Bunyan, my reflex reaction is to think "Well, I'm glad they're finally getting paid some money". If it's The White Stripes soundtracking an 'iconic global brand', I rub my face in my hands and sigh (even if the tune is rather good).

However, much as it may be logical to assume that The White Stripes were the first American garage band (we'll call them that for the sake of arguments, OK?) to take corporate dough, obscure New York racketeers The Denims were probably the first out of the gate in 1965, unless anyone knows better.  They were hardly household names in the USA, but that didn't stop The Adler Company from borrowing them for a promotional 45 about the benefit of Adler Socks, which were essentially cheap wool socks which tended to disintegrate or discolour after only a few washes.  "YEEEEEEAHHHH! DO THE SOCK!" the lead singer screeches as if his life depends on it, while the band kick up a fierce row in the background.  It's utterly unclear why The Adler Corporation thought such an act could flog feetwarmers, but I for one am thrilled they did - this is one of the most bizarre corporate spin-off singles I've ever encountered, a garage nugget with a commercial message attached.  It's likely to sound odder to British ears as this kind of harsh, abrasive punk noise never really made much headway in the UK charts, so the notion of using such an act to advertise clothing would have been unthinkable here.

The B-side is essentially an abbreviated version of the A-side and is included here for curiosity value only.  I can only assume it may have been used as a segment on the radio.

28 February 2013

Reupload - Time Machine - Summer of Love/ Another Scene (In Black and White)

Label: Bam Caruso
Year of Release: 1986

From the original press release:

"It's Summer Time again - and to mark the occasion Bam Caruso are releasing what is sure to become this summer's most played record...


A catchy tribute to summers gone, this tune is a medley of hits from the summer of '67. Included are such gems as 'Paper Sun', 'Flowers in the Rain', 'San Francisco', 'Whiter Shade of Pale', 'California Dreaming' and 'All You Need Is Love'.

THE TIME MACHINE faithfully reproduce these hits with amazing accuracy and skill (you can't see the joins!)

A MUST for all beach parties this year!!.. and not a chicken in sight".

Now, Bam Caruso were a fantastic label in the eighties, unearthing and issuing tons of hidden sixties gems for the general public's enjoyment, and their crowning achievement was unquestionably the Rubble series of albums. Seldom will I hear a bad word said against the organisation.

This single, however, baffles me. Its purpose was surely to lampoon the Stars on 45 styled discs which cluttered up the charts at one point, but their time had come and gone when "Summer of Love" was issued, and Jive Bunny had some years to arrive. More to the point, the comment about "seeing the joins" - whilst clearly ironic - also jangles on the nerves a little when you consider that the joins are so apparent on this single in places that it sounds like an ITV Chart Show rundown rather than a medley. At least Starsound and Jive Bunny kept a consistent rhythmic flow going, for all their obvious faults.

It is a thoroughly bizarre part of their catalogue, and does have a curiosity value of sorts, but more worthy of your attention is the flipside "Another Scene (In Black and White)" which is eighties psych revival pop to a tee (or perhaps that should be 'to an English tea'), with squeaking Casio keyboards switched to a sixties setting, vocals delivered in a Robyn Hitchcock style, and mystical guitar lines. The eighties psychedelic revival material somehow could never quite escape the decade of its origin, and - as is also apparent on the Syd Barrett tribute album "Beyond the Wildwood" - always had a smoothness and clarity to it the original material lacked.

I doubt that many people will seriously regret missing this first time around, but it's a nice enough addition to your mp3 playlist, and may prove to be a party talking point should you ever feel like digging it out for that purpose.

25 February 2013

Pam & The Paper Clips - Typing Pool/ Dear Katie

Label: EMI
Year of Release: 1980

Joining the ranks of "flop seventies and eighties singles which sound faintly like The Scissor Sisters" is this peculiar cut from the beginning of the decade which always seems to be illustrated by Rubik's Cubes by unimaginative arts editors and album sleeve designers. Information on this one has been difficult to come by, but there is one notable factor that makes it of particular interest to comedy fans - Nigel Planer (aka Neil out of "The Young Ones") co-wrote the A-side and certainly sounds as if he's handling some of the vocals.  Additionally, rumours have persisted for some time that the "Pam" here is Pamela Stephenson, and while it certainly sounds as if it could be her, there's no concrete evidence to prove this.

Sonically this disc is surprisingly acceptable, consisting of a collision between disco basslines and new wave quirk, two things which were highly in favour at the point of its release.  Comedically, however, it's a tad too bitter and scathing to actually be funny, and largely consists of Pam sneering angrily at her lecherous boss, complaining about sexism, glass ceilings in the workplace and the drudgery of a dull administrative job.  "Such a stupid little man/ How I wish that he was dead/ Don't wanna sit upon his knee/ I'd rather trample on his head" she snaps towards the end of the record, and it sounds genuine despite the rather "dopey secretary" voice she puts on mere moments before.  Any chirpy Lene Lovich styled oddballness is punctured by the vitriol of those lines.

Whilst it's not surprising that this flopped in 1980, it's surprising that this disc has fallen so much by the wayside since, purely because anything involving a member of "The Young Ones" team would usually be avidly snapped up by collectors.  The only conclusion I can sensibly draw is that Planer decided to tipp-ex it from his CV, which is a strange thing to do given that it's actually a lot better than the solo single ("Hole In My Shoe") he'd put out as Neil some years later.