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.