23 May 2018

Reupload - The Fuckers - Sexy Roy Orbison

Incomprehensible Finnish punk rock courtesy of Bill Drummond and Mark Manning

Label: Kalevala
Year of Release: 1997

You might remember that some time ago, I talked about Bill Drummond and Mark Manning (aka Zodiac Mindwarp) and their peculiar mission to create a series of fictional Finnish bands whose singles they could release in quantities of 500 copies each. From ambient brilliance to garage rock to techno stupidity, the singles were varied in style and tone.  Ultimately though, I doubt anyone was quite prepared for the non-existent Finnish punk band The Fuckers.  Drummond writes in his excellent tome "45":

"They are the only Lapp punk band in the world.  They have been together for over ten years, no line-up changes, thousands of gigs, no success and no selling out.  They always get drunk before they go on stage.  Once on stage they fall over, break strings, get in fights with each other or members of the audience.  The night always ends with them being ripped off by the promoter.  They hate everyone and everything, but especially Helsinki.  To them, Helsinki is full of soft, southern, disco-loving, homosexual, rich, arty wankers, and full of girls they want to shag but never can, things they want to own but never will.  The Fuckers are the eternal dispossessed outsiders, failures and fuck-ups.  All of their own doing, though of course they'll never see it that way.  As far as I'm concerned, The Fuckers are the greatest band in the world".

20 May 2018

Jefferson - Spider/ Can't Get You Out Of My Mind

Fantastic version of the creeping, vaguely psychedelic Kenny Young track

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1971

"Spider" is one of those songs which really should have been a smash. First released by its writer Kenny Young (of "Under the Boardwalk" fame) on the CBS label in July 1969, it contained all the drama and raunchiness the hit parade needed. After nobody bit, Clodagh Rogers covered it, but decided to relegate it to the B-side of her hit single "Biljo", where it was later rediscovered in charity shops by delighted people like me.

For my money, though, the 1971 attempt by Jefferson is the one to go for. On this disc, you get to hear everything being thrown at the wall in an attempt to make the record a hit - wailing guitars, thundering orchestral arrangements, rip-roaring vocals and a general air of sultriness combine to create a record which drips with atmosphere. A slightly sleazy atmosphere, admittedly, but one with such a powerful punch that you almost don't notice. 

17 May 2018

Erasmus Chorum - Oh Lord/ Holy House (On Sunday)/ Mary Jane

Earnest early rock single from future glam rockers 

Label: Chapter One
Year of Release: 1972

A curious one, this. An epic, overloaded three track single with two meaty rock tunes on the A-side and a six minute organ-driven slice of angst called "Mary Jane" on the flip, its tight grooves at 45rpm result in a horribly crap and under-powered sound (especially on my scuffed copy) but will probably gain some fans nonetheless. 

The A-side appears to be two separate, unconnected rock gospel pieces with an optimistic sheen, and its possible that the odd decision to put two tracks on side one confused the hell out of radio stations. Certainly, the fact that copies of this are near-on impossible to find now indicates a general lack of interest. Nonetheless, both show off a group who were clearly polished performers, and only a slightly limp production lets the side down.

13 May 2018

John D Bryant - Mr. Tambourine Man/ Lady Came From Baltimore

Lush, adult orientated 70s take of the Dylan/ Byrds classic. 

Label: Private Stock
Year of Release: 1978

John D Bryant has been on this blog before, and it's difficult to find much more to say about him. Beginning his career as a rather Dylanesque beatnik figure in the mid-sixties and gradually progressing into brighter, more tightly produced singer-songwriter fare, he managed to issue tons of records without once scoring a hit. Of these, debut 45 "Tell Me What You See" is the most abrasive, having a raw, garage feel, whereas the rather Jeff Lynne-esque "I Bring The Sun" is much fancied by psychedelic pop pickers.

By 1978, he'd been taken under the wing of Private Stock Records and "No Strings" and "Mr Tambourine Man" were his last singles. It has to be said, this one is an unusual release, being a smooth-as-silk AOR take on the Dylan classic, feeling strangely like "Rumours" era Fleetwood Mac in places. Clearly it was an attempt at harnessing the nostalgic pangs of an adult hippy audience who had since moved on to rather slicker fare. It has to be said, The Tremeloes' Alan Blakley does a good job in the producer's chair - the strings, female backing vocals and soaring arrangements give the track a yuppie euphoria it almost certainly didn't have before.

9 May 2018

Reupload - Cockpit (Featuring FR David) - Fifi/ Father Machine

The "Words" songsmith in an earlier, slightly more psych/ garage phase

Label: Butterfly
Year of Release: 1971

If you're a British person reading this blog entry, it's reasonably safe to assume that you know FR David for one thing and one thing only - the colossal global 1983 megahit "Words". A slightly fey, flowery and despairing ballad about one man's mammoth struggle to write a slightly fey, flowery and despairing ballad, its strangely meta subject matter clearly struck a chord with 8 million record buyers on Earth. "Well, I'm just a music man," shrugged David by way of explanation, "my words are coming out wrong". It was hard not to feel sorry for this gentle fellow, like some sort of parallel universe Elton John who was not only humble rather than arrogant, but had also failed to meet his Bernie Taupin. Not picking moss off a roof and getting "cross", just apologising... a lot.

Way, way before "Words", however, the Tunisian-born David (born Robert Fitoussi) had a long career in France with several records which are surprisingly overlooked by sixties pop aficionados. He began his career in 1965 as a member of the garage band Les Trefles who changed their name to Les Boots after one EP. Success was not forthcoming, so he split to go solo and issued, among other singles, the somewhat startling minor French hit "Symphonie". A berserk, hyperactive approximation of orchestral psychedelia, "Symphonie" is a single I've longed to own for years, but despite its hit status copies are irritatingly difficult to track down, and nor do mp3s of it seem to be readily available. Someone, somewhere needs to sort this out.

Seemingly restless, FR David shortly formed the rock group The David Explosion, who were known as Cockpit in some territories for reasons I can't fully fathom out. "Fifi/ Father Machine" was their first single, and it still has the spirit of the sixties coursing through its veins. The A-side sounds like his own garage days revisited with a three-chord roughness spearing its way through the middle of the track, whereas the B-side is faintly psychedelic in a solo McCartney way and slightly bizarre. His vocals encased in a tune riddled with mellotron noises, David exhorts "Father Machine" to allow humanity and emotions to return to a cold, logic-infested planet once more - it's not hard to form a clear line in your mind from this to "Words", but unlike his best-known work, "Father Machine" wobbles just on the right side of oddness. Hell, the Super Furry Animals have released worse slabs of sci-fi psychedelia than this one (you can imagine Gruff singing this, I swear).