22 February 2017

Jean Bouchety - Marley Purt Drive/ Portrait of Nancy

Label: Major Minor
Year of Release: 1969

Major Minor is a label I tend to look for in second-hand racks quite often, because while it issued a lot of records of questionable merit (like all record labels) it does also have some perfectly good and relatively unheard and uncompiled sixties pop in its catalogue. So when I clocked the Gibb brothers credit on this record, I snapped it up quickly. Too quickly, really, as the original LP this was taken from ("The Rhythms, Sounds and Melodies Of...") retails at around half the price online.

Jean Bouchety is actually a French composer of numerous television and film soundtracks, and contributor to several library music LPs (including some issued by Burton music). So, this version of "Marley Purt Drive" is actually just a slick and swinging piece of easy listening with occasional cooing female vocals - the kind of thing you could stroll along Carnaby Street swinging your man-bag in time to, if anybody ever actually did or does that sort of thing.

It's actually rather nice, but not worth the money I paid for it, and while it is a very scarce 45 with few documented owners, sadly its obscurity hasn't hidden any mindblowing or even remotely odd interpretations of the Bee Gees work.  The lovely basslines and a careful arrangement mean it's not a total wash-out, however.  

18 February 2017

Rainbow Cottage - Cloppa Castle/ Take Good Care of My Love

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1978

Wigan's Rainbow Cottage were a rum bunch of coves - an band consisting entirely of left-handed members to begin with, they were a club act who toured the UK relentlessly and made most of their money as a covers band. However,  they did occasionally pop into recording studios to put out original material. Their most successful effort, "Seagull", reached number 33 in 1976, and was penned by Brian Gibbs of popsike wonders The Answers. 

It's possibly due to Gibbs' involvement that "Seagull" sounds uncannily like a late sixties group ballad which has somehow found itself in the charts in 1976. It's whimsical, gentle, contemplative and actually quite sweet, and wouldn't have been completely out of place on a "Circus Days" compilation LP. 

The group tried to build on the track's unlikely but modest success and failed, and continued to make most of their money from the live circuit. However, another opportunity for fame and fortune arose in 1978, namely the chance to record the theme tune for the stop motion animated children's series "Cloppa Castle", based on warring tribes in some peculiar fictional alternate reality battling over the rights to oil. 

The theme tune is a busy but datedly analogue synth driven beast, beginning with psychedelic phasing and steadily building into something both strident and ridiculous. "Everyday at three o'clock/ they all sit down for tea!" we are informed forcefully, as the group summarise the general activities of the puppets in the programme with passion and gusto. 

Is this intended for adult consumption? Probably not. Nonetheless, there are elements of the single which do, once again, echo the late sixties, and that's possibly not too surprising when you consider that Patrick Campbell-Lyons of the UK group Nirvana was involved with the songwriting (it would seem that Rainbow Cottage had a filofax filled with the contact details of everyone who was almost someone in the late sixties). With a slight, only passing similarity to the Crocheted Doughnut Ring's flop psych single "Happy Castle", it's a piece of dayglo silliness only a complete grump would hate. It wasn't a hit, obviously - and nor really was the programme it came from - but this is a perfectly nice burst of sunshine. 

Rainbow Cottage ploughed on through numerous line-up changes until 1987, when they decided to call it a day. 

12 February 2017

Rainbow Children - Rock 'n' Roll (Who Needs Rock 'n' Roll)/ (We Love Rock n'n Roll)

Label: Antic
Year of Release: 1974

Hello everyone. Sorry for the relative lack of updates on "Left and to the Back" over the last couple of weeks, but unfortunately I've been struck down with an eye infection which makes sitting down and researching and writing blog entries on top of my nine-to-five job very difficult. There's only so much staring at screens my vision can cope with at the moment, unfortunately. (It's nothing serious, by the way, but it is a pain in the arse - or a pain in the eyes at the very least).

Anyway, here's a glam rock oddity which slipped out in 1974 to some airplay but no chart action. Issued on Antic, the short-lived pop subsidiary of Atlantic Records, the A-side is a kiddy-fronted attempt at glam which seems to be using Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" as its blueprint. Unlike that record, however, it lacks the warmth of a Spector soundscape and instead sounds quite raw and beaty - not the kind of noise children's vocals work very well in tandem with, unless they're used in a really sneering, sarcastic way. Here, they're just a little bit too cute for their own good.

As a result, the flip (essentially Part Two of the track) is much better, and is even graffitied as being such by the previous owner. It's an instrumental glam guitar freak-out, and is something to slip on between your Lieutenant Pigeon records if you're DJ'ing at the local glam bop.

It looks as if the two men behind this record were Christian Paul and Marc Hammond, who don't seem to have any credits for anything else that was ever commercially released. This record was also issued in some European markets under the name Rock n Roll Children, but I'm not sure if it met with any more success there.

5 February 2017

Reupload - Three Good Reasons - Nowhere Man/ Wire Wheels

Three Good Reasons - Nowhere Man

Label: Mercury
Year of Release: 1966

Some time ago, I made a solemn vow not to upload any more Beatles covers to this blog unless there was an exceptional reason to do so, believing that far too many were just lazy xeroxes of the Fab's originals. However, bizarro novelty covers would be allowed, and so too would perfectly decent discs like this.

What the rather mysterious Three Good Reasons achieved with "Nowhere Man" is by no means radical, subversive or weird, but it is interesting. The vocals in the track are handled by female vocalist Ann McCormack, who brings a slightly spiteful, folksy tone to the proceedings. Whereas Lennon was largely writing about himself in a despondent fashion in the original but coyly buttering it up with pop melodies, Clegg sounds like a scolding finger-pointer here, which gives the track an abrasive edge it ordinarily lacks, foresaking vocal harmonies for a bit of grit. It takes a spark of originality to make a cover version sound like an enjoyable alternative to the original rather than a poor facsimile of the original, and Three Good Reasons are most definitely in the former camp here. "Nowhere Man" might not trump The Beatles, but it does strangely highlight how much they were influenced by Dylanesque folk rock by this point in their careers, and it does so in a pleasingly zippy, zinging way.

Three Good Reasons released two other singles - "Build Your Love" and "The Moment of Truth" - but never really achieved mainstream scucess. "Nowhere Man" was their best shot of the big-time, peaking at number 47, and as for where they are now, well... I'm afraid the answer is that they're nowhere (men) (and women) in the music business, unfortunately, although Ann did get in touch with me to say she still enjoys doing the odd karaoke spot.

1 February 2017

Roy Young Band - Granny's Got A Painted Leg/ Revolution

Label: RCA
Year of Release: 1970

Roy Young is something of a showbiz trooper. His first taste of fame came through playing keyboards with the much-loved Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, and after that group's success dwindled, he also sessioned and played live for Long John Baldry, David Bowie, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson.

Prior to all that excitement, however, The Roy Young Band were formed, who also included Dennis Elliot (who later joined Foreigner). The group released two LPs on their own, "Roy Young Band" and "Mr. Funky", and also toured with Chuck Berry as his backing band.

If anyone is expecting a bit of rebel rousing rock and roll here, though, they're going to be rather surprised. As its absurd title hints, "Granny's Got A Painted Leg" is a complex, jazzy, brassy, thunderous piece of progressive pop, closer to Locomotive in style. Filled with unexpected twists and turns and frills, it certainly rocks, but in a particularly rambling way. I bet Bob Harris loved them.

Got to say, though, that after more than one listen "Granny" really starts to take a hold on me too. If on occasion it sounds a little too fussy for its own good, it certainly does swing, albeit in an unorthodox way. If the music of the likes of The Rebel Rousers had some sort of mainstream future in the seventies, this might have been what it would have sounded like - taking motorcycles down the winding woodland roads past the most interesting scenery, rather than Route 66.