Monday, September 18, 2017

Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. - Claw

Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. - Claw
After 4 years Men From S.P.E.C.T.R.E. strike back with their new masterpiece album 'Claw'. This time they dive even deeper into the late 1960s and early 1970s groovy spy sounds and deliver with the quality of a Swiss made clock the ultimate Retro-Dance-Party album. The sound and music of 'Claw' is so mind blowingly authentic, you feel immediately taken on a trip by a time machine into the decade of Austin Powers spies, lies, and thighs. Hammond-sounds, 1960s Garage, Beat and Psychedelic Rock and a hard knocking rhythm section melt into fireworks of an awesome spy thriller of the imagination. Rather than trying to recreate the 60's mod sound, the men are now incorporating a more modern vision while staying true to the roots of the movement they further. Their songs are layered with multiple levels of sound, impeccable timing with sound effects that work with the music and don't stand out as cheap sonics, and the rhythms are both groovy and psychedelic at the same time. Way cool.
01. The Claw
02. Take Me To Your Leader
03. Planetarium I & II
04. Dive Into The Mathmos
05. Holy Smoke
06. Jungle Flood
07. Dirt Track
08. The End


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

On The Brink: Return Of The Instro-Hipsters

On The Brink: Return Of The Instro-Hipsters

On the Brink is a collection of 20 previously uncomped and absolutely superb UK instrumentals from the '60s and early '70s, assembled by legendary psych musician and Psychic Circle label-head, Nick Saloman (The Bevis Frond). Presenting session men discovering sitars, orchestras getting into the freaky side of things, hip theme tunes, Hammonds, fuzz and brass. Somehow sophisticated and cheesy simultaneously, these acts created their own musical world of Chelsea apartments, mini-mokes, dark velvet bespoke tailoring and the dolliest birds this side of Battersea Bridge. Welcome to the soundtrack of your own unmade Swinging London movie. Artists include: Mike Vickers, the Jim Sullivan Sound, the Shock Absorbers, Wynder K. Frog, Rita, Offside, the Les Reed Orchestra, David Smith, the Keith Mansfield Orchestra, the Dave Davani Four, the Fidd, Ken Woodman's Piccadilly Brass, the John Schroeder Orchestra, Trax Four, the Mike Cotton Sound, Lee Mason and his Orchestra, the Vic Flick Sound, the Chris Barber Soul Band, Brian Bennett and Stanley Myers.
From the mid-'60s to the early '70s, there were quite a few instrumental releases recorded in the U.K. that seemed geared toward the easy listening market. Or, if the intention wasn't quite as gauche, they certainly weren't meant for the average rock fan, who likely wanted something hipper with more vocals and guitars. Still, even if the limited audience for these might have been (at least in part) listeners who wanted to feel a little hip without getting too far out, the musicians nonetheless couldn't help but be influenced by the rock, soul, and jazz trends of the day. On the Brink: Return of the Instro-Hipsters is a 20-track compilation of cuts from obscure 1965-1973 releases in this mold, with Swinging London go-go-like organs and brass being perhaps the most common (though by no means only) ingredients in the arrangements. There are a few names here that will be known to serious British Invasion fans, like Mike Vickers (from Manfred Mann), Jim Sullivan (the numero uno British rock session guitarist before Jimmy Page eclipsed him), Wynder K. Frog, the Mike Cotton Sound, the Dave Davani Four, Vic Flick (famous for playing on "The James Bond Theme"), and British senior jazz statesman Chris Barber; others are known as top cats in the British easy listening arena and have already been honored by reissues of their own (Ken Woodman and John Schroeder).

While any compilation that takes such an unusual angle to such a heavily mined reissue field as British '60s pop is to be applauded, you'd have a hard time pushing all of this as essential listening, even within its narrow subgenre. A good deal of it really is kind of mundane background soul-rock instrumental music – something that could have worked satisfactorily on B-movie soundtracks of the era, but which doesn't stand too well on its own two feet. There are occasional psychedelic echoes on sitar and screeching fuzz guitar, but these sound more like cheesy appropriations to make the cuts seem more "with it" than they sound like outbursts of creativity. It's only occasionally that the tracks let rip with the groovy organ and devious spy guitar licks lots of curious listeners will really want to hear, as the Dave Davani Four's fine cover of the "Top of the Pops" theme and the Vic Flick Sound's "West of Windward" do on both counts. As for other gut-grabbers, Ken Woodman's Piccadilly Brass' "Mexican Flier" would have worked great as a '60s Bond-like thriller theme, and the Chris Barber Soul Band's "Morning Train" (from 1965) has to be the veteran jazzer's most effective stab at the pop/rock market, with some great Brian Auger organ and an edgy jazz-blues fusion that approximates (but doesn't quite match) the sound of the Graham Bond Organisation. Some worthwhile and fun stuff here, then, but there's a significant gap between the best of it and the rest of it.

Review by Richie Unterberger,

01. Mike Vickers - On The Brink (02:23)
02. The Jim Sullivan Sound - She Walks Through The Fair (02:44)
03. The Shock Absorbers - It's Your Thing (02:40)
04. Wynder K. Frog - I'm A Man (03:20)
05. Rita - Sexologie (03:17)
06. Offside - Small Deal (02:08)
07. The Les Reed Orchestra - Big Drum (01:58)
08. David Smith - See Me (02:32)
09. The Keith Mansfield Orchestra - Soul Thing (02:59)
10. The Dave Davani Four - Top Of The Pops (02:12)
11. The Fidd - Happy Walk (02:30)
12. Ken Woodman's Piccadilly Brass - Mexican Flier (02:35)
13. The John Schroeder Orchestra - Nightrider (02:55)
14. Trax Four - Moanin' (02:01)
15. The Mike Cotton Sound - Soul Serenade (02:42)
16. Lee Mason And His Orchestra - Deadly Nightshade (03:03)
17. The Vic Flick Sound - West Of Windward (02:59)
18. The Chris Barber Soul Band - Morning Train (02:28)
19. Brian Bennet - Tricycle (02:50)
20. Stanley Myers - Organ Fantasia in D Major (05:49)

Return Of The Instro-Hipsters, Volume 2

Return Of The Instro-Hipsters, Volume 2
Groovy Instrumentals From The UK 1965-1973
Nick Saloman of the Bevis Frond once again invites us to join him in the obscure pleasures of little-known pop, R&B, and jazz instrumental sides of the '60s and '70s with this collection. A number of the selections featured on Return of the Instro-Hipsters are so obscure that even Saloman isn't sure just who is responsible for them (though he offers some educated guesses on the artists behind such names as Sharks, Oliver Bone, and the Masked Phantom), but there are a good share of solid grooves and kicky melodies to be found here from a number of gifted little-knowns. If you went to the movies in the '70s, "Soul Thing" by Tony Newman will sound familiar, while flautist Harold McNair solos over a Dave Brubeck-influenced piano groove on "The Hipster," Jerry Allen demonstrates new uses for game calls on "Fuzzy Duck," Thunder Road's synthesized version of "Peter Gunn" beats Art of Noise's variation on the theme by more than 15 years, "The Brooke Bond Beat" by Cliff Adams may be the most swingin' tea commercial ever, and the Outer Limits serve up some tough, moody rock, appropriately titled "Black Boots." While there's a bit of "Space Age Bachelor Pad" ambience to this set, it's more a matter of evoking a period than obsessing over a particular sound or style; the disc doesn't wallow in camp for its own sake, with solid instrumental chops and strong songwriting the order of the day. Another solid offering from what's becoming one of the most consistently interesting reissue labels operating today.

Review by Mark Deming,

01. D Cordell's Tea Time Ensemble - A Quick One For Sanity (03:08)
02. The 4 Instants - Discotheque (02:42)
03. The Roger Coulam Quartet - Simba (02:05)
04. Harold McNair - The Hipster (04:41)
05. Music Through Six - Floppy Ears (02:38)
06. Sounds Sensational - Night Cry (02:19)
07. The Masked Phantom - Fried Scampi (02:33)
08. The Johnny Harris Orchestra - Lulu's Theme (02:28)
09. Tony Newman - Soul Thing (03:14)
10. The Tony Evans Band - Beach Bird (02:34)
11. Kenny Clare - Hum Drum (01:53)
12. Sharks - Funkology (02:22)
13. The Outer Limits - Black Boots (03:21)
14. Cliff Adams - The Brooke Bond Beat (02:22)
15. Oliver Bone - Jugger Tea (02:56)
16. Thunder Road - Peter Gunn (02:14)
17. Jerry Allen - Fuzz Duck (02:51)
18. Paraffin Jack Flash - Blue & Groovy (04:15)
19. The Helmut Zaccharias Orchestra - Ton Up (02:37)
20. Ning - More Ning (02:44)


Roaring Blue: Return Of The Instro-Hipsters Vol. 3

Roaring Blue: Return Of The Instro-Hipsters Vol. 3 
20 Groovy Instrumentals From The '60s & '70s
The seemingly bottomless record collection of Nick Saloman from the Bevis Frond has spawned the third in an ongoing series of albums collecting obscure instrumental tracks from the '60s and '70s, and while many of these songs support the popular notion that the hipper and more interesting rock artists of the day were fond of vocal numbers, there are some fun and exciting tunes to be found on this set. Roaring Blue draws its title from the lead-off track, a swinging dance tune by the Sound of Jimmy Nicol, featuring the drummer who briefly replaced an ailing Ringo Starr during a tour in 1964 (this may explain why Nicol's drums are so far up in the mix), while members of the long-running U.K. pop band Blue Mink appear on the track "Beat Party" under the pseudonym the Underground, and John McLaughlin adds guitar licks to "Trans-Love Airways" by Big Jim Sullivan. That's about it for star power on this volume, but the lesser known acts are in equally solid form here, with the Des Champ Orchestra delivering a slightly rocked-up arrangement of the theme from It Takes a Thief, Casey and the Pressure Group bringing some supper club funk to a cover of the Shocking Blue's "Venus," Okko Bekker's sitar and a whacked-out synth solo adding to the fun on "Santana," jazzman Shake Keane generating a fine Northern soul dance groove with "Make with Shake," and the Jim Doherty Trio making with some potent organ-based groove jazz on "Ladies Wear"." Many of the other cuts on board are uncomfortably generic sounding, and too many of these songs fit into the same faux-R&B template, making the set a bit tiring by the time it comes to a close. But the good numbers manage to outnumber the bad (just barely), and if you have a soft spot for the kitschy side of U.K. pop, Roaring Blue is just what the doctor ordered.

Review by Mark Deming,


01. The Sound of Jimmy Nicol - Roaring Blue (02:14)
02. The Des Champ Orchestra - It Takes a Thief (02:22)
03. Clubman - Round Up (02:46)
04. The Duke of Burlington - 30-60-90 (02:12)
05. Casey & The Pressure Group - Venus (03:01)
06. Okko Bekker - Santana (04:05)
07. The Keith Mansfield Orchestra - Boogaloo (03:44)
08. The Underground - Beat Party (02:44)
09. The 4 Instants - All About My Girl (03:40)
10. Rajah - Deadeye Dick (02:54)
11. Ram Inn Junction - Junction Blues (02:36)
12. Shake Keane - Make with Shake (02:41)
13. Monty Babson - My Friend Jack (03:03)
14. Johnny Howard Band - El Pussy Cat (02:57)
15. Electric Bird - Stoned Out (02:17)
16. The Jim Doherty Trio - Ladies Wear (02:57)
17. The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra - Theme from Department S (02:57)
18. Big Jim Sullivan - Trans-Love Airways (02:09)
19. The Stormsville Shakers - J.C. Greaseburger (04:02)
20. The New Dance Orchestra - Theme Number One (02:54)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

VA - Britxotica!: London's Rarest Primitive Pop And Savage Jazz

VA - Britxotica!: London's Rarest Primitive Pop And Savage Jazz 

So you thought exotic recordings only came from Hawaii or the USA? Well, you're wrong. Here's a collection of amazing, far-flung sounds from the UK. Rare, wild, and just itching to turn your turntable into a strange pagan place of sonic worship. Just try to keep those cocktails from flowing and your clothes on. "Britxotica" (pronounced "Britzotica") is a word you may never have come across before. This term neatly describes an odd and undocumented pre-Beatles musical scene in which famed UK composers, singers, and bandleaders threw convention to the wind and went wild wild wild! Drawing influences from Hollywood, Hawaii, and holiday (any hot and frantic destination would do) they conjured up sounds to suit a modern but fledgling escape from the gray trudge of postwar London. The result is a bunch of rare, mod, wild, and naïvely experimental trips into the tribal, but keeping the white suit, shirt, and tie firmly in place no matter what the temperature. Fascinating, sometimes fierce, and often absolutely bananas, this new album of old toss is an absolute trip! 


1. African Waltz - Lyn Cornell
2. Jungle Drums - Ted Heath
3. Poinciana - Allan Bruce
4. Bahama Rumba - Rawicz And Landauer
5. Follow Me - Lucille Mapp
6. Taboo - Sounds Incorporated
7. Run Joe - Nadia Cattouse
8. Street of a Thousand Bongos - Brian Fahey
9. Zambezi - Tony Mansell & Johnny Dankworth
10. Ritual Blues - Reg Owen
11. The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God - Harry H. Corbett
12. Take My Lips - Laurie Johnson & His Orchestra
13. A Night of Adventure - Edmundo Ros
14. Cha Cha Cha Calypso - Maxine Daniels
15. Cerveza - Cherry Wainer
16. The Hat - Jerry Allen


More history and track info in comments.

VA - Britxotica Goes East! Persian Pop and Casbah Jazz From the Wild British Isles!

VA - Britxotica Goes East! Persian Pop and Casbah Jazz From the Wild British Isles!

A breathtaking follow-up to the successful Britxotica! This takes us on a magic carpet ride to a place where the Sphinx, sheiks, sand dances and caravans of camels are the magical, musical norm. But this is music made by post war jazz musicians and show girls from London - blimey! Yep, this is perfect Persian pop and killer Casbah jazz made by Eastenders. It's also British music as rare and as beautiful as Tutankhamun's treasure. You may never come across a more exotic British sound ever again…you'll be cursed if you miss it.


1. Sphinx Won't Tell - The Beverley Sisters
2. Yashmak - Chico Arnez & His Orchestra
3. Caravan - Stanley Black
4. Four Beats to the Casbah - Johnny Keating & His Z-Men
5. Persian Twist - Charles Blackwell
6. Baghdad Bazaar - Philip Green & His Mayfair Orchestra
7. Sheik Or Morocco - Kenny Day
8. Marrakesh - Tony Osborne
9. Climb Up the Wall - Yana
10. Miserlou - Stanley Black
11. Delilah's Theme - Johnny Keating Kombo
12. Call of the Casbah - Laurie Johnson
13. Lonely One - Roy Tierney
14. Turkish Coffee - Tony Osborne
15. Kazoo - Reg Owen
16. The Sultan of Bezaaz - Ray Ellington


VA - Tropical Britxotica! Polynesian Pop and Placid Jazz from The Wild British Isles!

VA - Tropical Britxotica Polynesian Pop and Placid Jazz from The Wild British Isles!
Ah exotica, that curious creature. Where (in this case) British musicians dress up as what they imagine musicians from distant lands sound like, with strange and wonderful results. Jonny Trunk and Martin Green have assembled a strong selection of rare exotica records with a tropical theme for this edition of their Britxotica compilation series: Polynesian Pop and Placid Jazz .


01 Lucille Map - Mangoes 02:27
02 Frank Weir - Hawaiian Honeymoon 03:01
03 The Sound Of Ed White - Coral Reef 02:45
04 Ron Goodwin - Tropical Mirage 02:59
05 Geoff Love - Heatwave 03:04
06 Marion Ryan - An Occasional Man 02:12
07 Edmundo Ros - Summertime 02:26
08 Dick Katz - Dreamride 02:34
09 George Melly - Run See Jerusalem 02:50
10 International Pops All Stars - Green Eyes 02:14
11 Johnny Gentle - Milk From The Coconut 02:32
12 Ted Heath - Haitian Ritual 03:33
13 Betty Smith - Stormy Weather 02:45
14 Martinas And His Music - Quiet Village 02:52
15 Norrie Paramour - Hawaii 02:01
16 Lucille Map - On Treausre Island 02:31


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

That's New Pussycat Surf Tribute to Burt Bacharach

That's New Pussycat Surf Tribute to Burt Bacharach

This isn't the first instrumental treatment of Burt Bacharach's songs. There have been several, including an album of Moog synthesizer arrangments entitled (what else?) Switched On Bacharach. Nor is this the first tribute to Bacharach by various artists. But this IS, as far as I know, the first tribute to Bacharach by instrumental surf and garage bands. The idea of surf and garage bands paying homage to arch-hodad Burt Bacharach is, of course, crazy. MUCHO Loco. John Barry, okay, but Burt Bacharach? In the 1960s, when surf pioneer Dick Dale was down at the Southern California beach blasting out raucous dance music for Gidget and Moondoggie, Burt Bacharach (ten years Dale's senior) was up in Hollywood writing sophisticated pop tunes for their parents.

My , how times have changed.

When surf music made a comeback in the 1990s, Bacharach was collaborating with Elvis Costello. Still, nobody can deny the catchiness of Bacharach's melodies. And it's not crazy, but actually a clever idea, to remove those melodies from Hal David's cloying lyrics (you know, like: "Pussycat, pussycat, I love you. Yes I do" or: "LA is a great big freeway. Put a hundred down and buy a car"). Hey, you know, without Tom Jones or Dionne Warwick singing, those songs are actually kinda cool! The rough vocals and surf/garage attitude give some of them a whole new meaning for the 07's. That is new, pussycat!
You might think that Bacharach's quirky melodies would be a challenge for the bands participating here. Surf and garage music aren't known for their exact mastery of syncopation. The standard surf beat is a straight 'double on the two, single on the four'. Bacharach, on the other hand, is all about odd syncopation. And yet, listen for yourself: almost everybody pulls it off, and some even do so brilliantly. Burt to shag to.

1 24 Hours From Tulsa – Apeman
2. The Blob – Aqualads
3. Trains & Boats & Planes – Baronics
4. Casino Royale Theme - Big Ray & Futuras
5. Baby It's You - Bradipos Four
6. God Give Me Strenght – Chubbies
7. The Look of Love - Cosmonauti
8. Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head – Deadbolt
9. The Windows of the World - Fabulous Planktones
10. Italian Fuzz - Fifty Foot Combo
11. Baby It's You - Hi-Fi Ramblers
12. Walk On By - Mill Valley Taters
13. Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head - Mummy The Peepshow
14. This Guy's in Love With You - Noseriders
15. Baby It's You - Petty Booka
16. I Say a Little Prayer - Pollo Del Mar
17. Do You Know the Way to San José - Seks Bomba

18. Close to You - Squid Vicious
19. Bond Street - Surfones
20. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Susan & Surftones
21. What's New Pussycat? - Tiki Tones
22. Anyone Who Had a Heart - Richie Venus
23. (there's) Always Something to Remind Me - Voodoo Court
24. Downhill & Shady – Waistcoats25. Trains & Boats & Planes - Wrong Corpses


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Devo - EZ Listening Muzak

Devo - EZ Listening Muzak
Happy Mother's Day! Do you know your fondues from your fon-don't's? Fear not spuds, Devo and Futurismo bring you the perfect soundtrack to your space-age bachelor or bachelorette pad with 21 tracks of pure unhinged sophistication. Futurismo repressed this compilation of muzak covers Devo recorded of their own songs and sold via their fan club. This wonderfully bizarre material pushes the witty, eccentric and utterly unique Devo sound in an even more devolishious direction. Whether you're entertaining guests with a bout of cheese and wine by the fire or throwing the cocktail party of the century, these mutated muzak lounge versions of Devo classics such as 'Whip It', 'Jocko Homo' and 'It's A Beautiful World' will be the perfect hors d'oeuvres for an evening of de-evolved fun. Originally created as pre-concert mood setters, popularity and sound board thievery led to EZ Listening Muzak being sold back in the early 80s as two fan club only cassettes. Also included alongside these cherished instrumentals of yesteryear is a brand new EZ version of 'Human Rocket' - recorded exclusively for this release! Bringing the timeline full circle. Isn't it about time you took it EZ? 


1. Gates of Steel
2. Girl U Want
3. Come Back Jonee
4. Whip It
5. That's Good
6. Jerkin' Back and Forth
7. 4th Dimension
8. Shout (Hello Kitty)
9. Mongoloid
10. Pity You
11. Goin' Under

1. Swelling Itchin Brain
2. Jurisdiction of Love
3. Peek-a-boo!
4. Satisfaction
5. Space Junk
6. Time Out for Fun
7. It's a Beautiful World
8. Jocko Homo
9. Shout
10. Human Rocket (Laughing Gas Version) 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mickey Baker - In the 50s (1952-56)

Mickey Baker - In the 50s (1952-56)
71 minutes. Mostly instrumental greasy, slinky, gut bustin' guitar. GIT IT!
Few rock & roll or R&B guitarists of the '50s and '60s have a more consistently frantic body of work than the great Mickey Baker, though his name isn't nearly as well-known as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, or Ike Turner. Baker did most of his work as a sideman, and his best-known recordings as a headliner found him playing second fiddle to Sylvia Robinson as half of Mickey & Sylvia (whose "Love Is Strange" remains a puzzling delight 50 years after it was recorded), but folks who know and love first-era rock & roll are aware of Baker's greatness, and this collection is a superb overview of his work, both as a bandleader and as a hired gun.

Containing a hefty 31 tracks recorded between 1952 and 1956, In the '50s: Hit, Git & Split runs the gamut from the low-key acoustic blues of Baker's "Love Me Baby" to the wailing electric dread of Larry Dale's "Midnight Hours," the uptempo rockabilly of Joe Clay's "Did You Mean Jelly-Bean," the easy-swinging jump blues of Sam Price's "Rib Joint," a double-time rewrite of Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" on Brownie McGhee's "Anna Mae," and a rockin' re-recording by Louis Jordan of "Caldonia" with Baker's guitar answering the hearty peals of the horn section and Jordan's vocals. The word "Wild" tended to pop up in the titles of Mickey Baker's solo albums, and one spin of this disc will show you why – the man's rough-and-tumble style screamed and hollered the blues whenever he hit the strings, and Baker's solos are death-defying hoodoo magic no matter what cut you cue up. Hit, Git & Split is a thoroughly enjoyable set of vintage R&B that's good and greasy throughout, and a peerless introduction to one of the great unsung heroes of rock & roll.
Personnel & tracklist:
01 - Bill Hendricks - Spinnin' Rock Boogie
02 - Mickey Baker - Love Me Baby
03 - Mickey Baker - Brandstand Stomp
04 - Mickey Baker - Riverboat
05 - Big Red McHouston - I'm Tired
06 - Big Red McHouston - Stranger Blues
07 - Larry Dale - You Better Heed My Warning
08 - Larry Dale - Midnight Hours
09 - Mickey Baker - Shake Walkin'
10 - Larry Dale - Down to the Bottom
11 - Mickey Baker - Greasy Spoon
12 - Larry Dale - Please Tell Me
13 - Mickey And Sylvia - Where Is My Honey
14 - Mickey And Sylvia - No Good Lover
15 - Mickey Baker - Rock With a Sock
16 - Mickey & Sylvia - Love Is Strange
17 - Joe Clay - Did You Mean Jelly-Bean
18 - Charles Calhoun - Runaway
19 - Little Willie John - I Need Your Love So Bad
20 - Titus Turner - All Around the World
21 - Sam Price - Rib Joint
22 - Brownie McGhee - Anna Mae
23 - Eddie Riff - My Baby's Gone Away
24 - Louis Jordan - Caldonia '56
25 - Tiny Kennedy - Country Boy
26 - Mr Bear And His Bearcats - The Bear Hug
27 - Roy Gaines - Worried 'Bout You Baby
28 - Square Walton - Pepper-Head Woman
29 - Champion Jack Dupree - Stumbling Block
30 - Big John Greer - Come Back Uncle John
31 - Young Jessie - Hit Git And Split 

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