Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Artist: Francoise Hardy.  Titles: If You Listen, La Question.  Format: LP.  Country: France and US.  Year:1971.

Slightly different format for this post - as there are 2 LPs I'm focussing on - both issued in (or around) 1971 by Francoise Hardy.  Firstly the "If You Listen" album which is to date the last full English language set of songs she's released - which of course doesn't include the track with Blur (the 'La Comedie' full french and half french/half english version of 'To The End'), and 'Revenge of the Flowers' done with Malcolm McClaren.  The album was recorded at Sound Techniques in London - the very same studios used by Nick Drake and others on Joe Boyd's Witchseason rosta, and features amongst others Richard Thompson playing on a number of tracks.  Other connections include sound engineer Vic Gamm who worked alongside John Wood on the Nick Drake stuff.  The highlight of the album for me has to be "Bown, Bown, Bown" - co-written by a pre-Foreigner Mick Brown, who was part of FH's studio band during this period, after having fulfilled a similar for Sylvie Vartan in the mid-60's. And what's great about it - apart from FH being in very fine form as you would expect - is that very Nick Drake-y vibe to the whole thing, especially with the interplay between the acoustic guitars and the Robert Kirby styled strings. There's a french version of this which appears of Francoise's subsequent 1972 LP 'Et Si Je M'en Vais Avant Toi' which I presume was recorded at the same time as the english version (as well as the Portugese version!).  And in common with a lot of the stuff translated into french - Francoise does the honours herself - as she did with the Bacharach & David/Shirelles song 'The Love Of A Boy' amongst others back in the 60's.  And if anyone was listening to BBC Radio 2 back in January you would have me talking about it on Michael Ball's 'Sunday Brunch' show before they played the song - a great way to get this wonderful song out there to the wider audience it deserves.

Despite what been said about this set on some other Francoise Hardy related blogs, I have to differ. As it's one of those albums that subtly hooks you and gently reels you in without your consciously realizing it.  And it has some great tracks on it in addition to one already mentioned.  Including 2 by Beverley Martin "Ocean" and the rather excellent "I Can't The One I Want", and 2 by Buffy St Marie:- "Until It's Time For You To Go" and "Take My Hand For A Little While".  Add to the version of "The Garden of Jane Delawney", and an enderaring version of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - which pretty much follows the Dusty template.  And to round things off an slightly quirky version of ole Shaky's "Till The Morning Comes".
Alternate Cover
La Question 45

The second FH LP is another personal fave from this period "La Question" done with the Brazillain female flamenco guitarist Tuca - and again a pretty superlative set.
What's most noticeable is the stripped down sound and arrangements of the songs - especially when compared to overdone/overcooked arrangements on FH's late 60's stuff - the worst offender I can think of being the 1968 'En Anglais' LP where you're struggling to hear the vocals over the sea of strings.  This thankfully  doesn't.  The thing that immediately struck me when I first heard this (and still does) is that it's pretty apparent that FH had heard Nick Drake's stuff - and "Oui Je Dis Adieu" wouldn't sound out of place in either 'Five Leaves Left' or 'Bryter Layter'.  And of it's generally thought to be the case that a joint project between Francoise  and Nick Drake was in the planning stages when he died in 1974.  (As to whether anything was recorded is a matter of conjecture for another post at another time.)  The other highlights here have to "La Question" itself the albums opener "Viens" and "Bati Mon Nid".
Reve 45 sleeve
Chanson D'O 45 sleeve

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Artist: The Velvet Underground.  Title: White Heat (EP).  Label: AEB.  Format: 7"EP.  Country: UK.  Cat. No.: AEB 100.  Year: 1976.

Today's platter under the spotlight is this 1976 EP from the Velvets - feat. 4 tracks that would later surface on the officially released 'VU' and 'Another View' LPs in the mid 80s - but here they are as they first appeared.  And it's the first of the Velvet's records that I was intent on getting - in this case found in the Plastic Factory in Brum and which cost me about a fiver, if memory serves.  The sleeve's one of those where you can spend sometime identifying/recognising who's on it - all 4 four Velvets plus Nico you can have for starters - the rest you can find for yourselves!  Valuewise worth around the £20 mark with its condition.

Side One is devoted to the rather excellent "Foggy Notion" - and just goes to show that Lou Reed was capable writing something that didn't deal with the crash-life lifestyles on the habitutees of The Factory and approaches being a comparatively straight-forward pop song, and as such more akin the Velvets' third LP.  Not surprising as it from the 1968/9 period and features Doug Yule in as replacement for John Cale.

Side Two opens up with "Temptation Inside Your Heart" which is that strange beast a Cale era Velvets' track that sounds like he and Lou Reed are actually having fun in the studio - which this tongue-in-cheek Motown/Martha & The Vandellas tribute is without a doubt - ironic because it's pretty much the last thing the Welsh One did with the Velvets' before being sacked by Reed.  Next up is the delightfully quirky Mo Tucker showcase that is "I'm Sticking With You" - and I have to admit I prefer the slightly knackered sound quality here to the pristine quality on the officially released version on 'VU'.  The final track is another good on in the shape of "Ferryboat Bill" - again from around 1969 and officially issued on the 'Another View' LP.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Artist: Julian Cope.  Title: Sunspots (EP).  Label: Mercury.  Format: Double 7".  Country: UK.  Cat. No.: MER 1822.  Year: 1985.

Today's post is request from erstwhile Playhawk drummer 'Ook the Duke, even though he has this vinyl platter under discussion today - Julian Cope's 1985 "Sunspots" taken from the slightly strange 'Fried' LP - and a fairly accurate description of the state of the Arch-Drude's brain cells around this period.  The song itself is one one the more accessible tracks from the album, and only has hints of the somewhat frazzled state the listener found him in on the rest of the album - including the 'Fear' era John Cale style visceral angst that is 'Run Run Raynard'.  And it really shouldn't come as any surprise that Mercury/Phonogram dropped him from their rosta - you can almost picture some record company exec fervently hoping that this time they'd get something that sounded more like The Teardrop Explodes - only for this to arrive and then weeping into his filofax in despair as a consequence.  Back to the music - the flip side of the 1st single gives you the somewhat more tripped out mushroom-influenced 'I Went On Chourney'.

Record two has on it's A Side "Mik Mak Mok" - another trip through the frazzled brain of Mr Cope.  The final track is the rather good "Land of Fear" - which would've have a great single in its own right.  This is the second version recorded - the first/demo version can be found as the uncredited bonus track in the 'Sunshine Playroom' 12" where you can hear Star Wars starting/or finishing on the TV in the background.  The 3rd is the final track on 1999's '20 Mothers' album.

After this Julian kinda sorted himself out and signed with Island - and in due course produced the outstanding 'Peggy Suicide', then parted company with them after some choice comments about Bono/U2 and a certain Axl Rose in particular.  And now follows his own unique path which includes checking out a stone circles or other such neolithic sites or phenomena, delivering lectures on such and still releasing the occasional record when he feels like it.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Artist: The Circus.  Title: I'll Always Love You.  Label: Jambee.  Fomat: 7".  Country of Issue: US.  Cat. No.: JP-1007.  Year: 1960s.

Today's post features a hybrid genre I'm a bit of a fan Psychedellic N. Soul - and the choice today has to be the best example I can think of - The Circus' take on "I'll Always Love You", which Jock Mitchell in Scarborough put me onto, and then gave me the record the last time I saw him - thanks and much appreciated.  I reckon this has to have been released around 1966 - though of course it could a year or so either side - but it certainly sounds like it's from '66. The arrangement sticks pretty close The Detroit Spinners original - apart of course from the fuzz guitar solo mid-through, and I did notice that the song's credited to Mickey Stevenson and I Turner - although the latter should be Ivy Jo Hunter.  The only other Pysche/N. Soul crossover I can think of the Seeds' seminal 'Pushin' To Hard'.

The flip side of this Circus offering is "Away From This World" and is more straightforward beat/garage type track.  And apart from the it's penned by Kevin Murphy and produced by Jordan Miller & Morrie Parker- that's pretty much all I've managed to find out about this single, although whether this the same Circus responsible for the full on Pysche/Garage wowness that is 'Bad Seed (You're A Bad Seed)' I'm not sure.  Even a search on the excellent Garagehangover blog draws a blank.  Though of course that's not going to stop from continuing to look - and if anyone out there has any additional info please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Monday, 14 March 2011


Artist: T.Rex.  Title: 20th Century Boy.  Label: T.Rex Wax Co./EMI.  Format: 7".  Country of Issue: UK. Cat. No.: MARC 4.  Year; 1973.

A bumper batch on today's post - first up this 1973 offering from T.Rex.  The A Side is the rather good "20th Century Boy" - and possibly his best known song at the present (revived to a great extent after being featured in a Levi's ad a few years back) - and posted as a thanks to the Playhawk boys who did a cracking version in their live set on Saturday night.  The B Side gives you "Free Angel", which a okayish bit Glam Rock.

Artist: The Rolling Stones.  Title: Satisfaction.  Label: Decca.  Format; 7".  Country of Issue: Germany.  Cat. No.: DL 25 000.  Year: 1965.

Next up is this German pressing of the Stones classic - which I think I picked up in Brum about 5 years ago - only think to really add is that the title's shortened to just "Satisfaction" - rather the the longer 'I Can't Get No...'

The B Side is "The Under-Assistant West Coast Promotion Man" is pretty much filler material - first surfacing on their 3rd LP 'Out Of Our Heads'.  With Mick & Keith using their Nanker and Phelge psuedonyms for the writing credits.

Artist: The Rolling Stones.  Title: Mother's Little Helper.  Label: London.  Format: 7".  Country of Issue: Canada.  Cat. No.: L.902.  Year;1966.
Third up is this rather good Canadain double-header from the Stones - feat. 2 tracks from the 1966 'Aftermath' set.  The A Side side serves up the album's opener the excellent "Mother's Little Helper" - just check out Brian Jones on what sounds like an electric sitatr, and the whole thing in general really!

The flip side is another piece of greatness in the form of "Lady Jane" - and don't for one moment let the tune lull you into a false sense of security, as one listen to the lyrics will leave in no uncertain terms as to the subject matter - class distinctions (which where still there to a level in the mid 60's - though rapidly crumbling fast, although it didn't stop the powers that be from trying to make an example of Mick & Keith).

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Artist: Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Title: Debora.  Label: Old Gold.  Format: 7".  Country of issue: UK.  Cat. No.: OG 9234.  Year: 1982.

1982 reissue of these 2 tunes from Tyrannosaurus Rex - both originally issued in 1968 on the UK golden oldies Old Gold imprint.  The A Side label would lead you to believe that is a reissue of the 1968 single from Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrine-Took - but actually it isn't. What you get here is in fact the LP version from 'Prophets Seers & Sages' - which is the rerecorded and the palindromic retitled "Deboraarobed" - quite appropriate as the track is looped back itself half-way through.  And good bit psyche-folk as good as anything the likes of the Incredible String Band or the original Nirvana produced around this period

The flip side is the 1968 version of "One Inch Rock" - itself rerecorded for the first T.Rex LP.  Though that version is a lot rockier, as by that point Bolan had moved on from the Tolkien inspired pysche-folk of this period to that curious beast now known as Glam Rock.


Artist: Aretha Franklin. Title: La Casa Que Jack Construyo. Label: Atlantic-Hispa Vox. Format: 7". Country of origin/issue: Spain. Cat. No.: H - 364. Year; 1969.

Today's offering is this 1969 Spanish issued single from Aretha.  The A Side gives you her version of the rather brilliant "The House That Jack Built"("La Casa Que Jack Construyo"), and until a fortnight ago I'd always assumed that this had been written specifically for Aretha.  It wasn't. The original is by Thelma Jones - issued on Barry in the States in 1968 - and Soul City over here in the UK a year later (possibly as an attempt to cash in on the success of the Aretha version), and more funk based that the better known Aretha version.

The flip side gives another classic bit of Aretha in the form of "I Say A Little Prayer" - Spanish translation/title being "Rezo Una Pequena Oracion".

And of course the great thing about these european issues is that they come in picture sleeves - which UK singles didn't properly have until well into the 1970s - and the rear lists/shows the other Aretha Franklin 45s already issued in Spain up till that point.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Artist: Lou Johnson. Title: (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me. Label: London. Format: 7". Country of of issue/origin: UK. Cat. No.: HLX 9917. Year: 1964.

Today's dig from the collection spotlights this '64 offering from Lou Johnson.  The A Side is the original version of "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" - and a UK hit for Sandie Shaw.  The song was penned by Burt Bacharach & Hal David and (like most of their songs in the 60's) demoed by Dionne Warwick - whose own version was issued in 1968.  The backing vocals are the so-called super sessioners - namely Doris Troy, Dee Dee Warwick, and Cissy Houston, and you can certainly hear Doris Troy and Dee Warwick on this one. Bacharach was intent on pushing this version as a potential hit here in the UK even bringing Lou Johnson over to promote the song, only for it be gazumped by Sandie Shaw's manager Eve Taylor getting her signing's version out before the Johnson original - a practice common with UK acts issuing their cover before the US original versions.  And guess who had the hit?

The flip side is a rather good N. Soul flavoured track in the shape of "Wouldn't That Be Something".  Although not having quite the dancefloor impact of Lou Johnson's subsequent 'Unsatisfied' issued the following year, this is still a bit of good 'un.  Valuewise, a mint copy of this is worth in the region of £25.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Artist: David Bowie. Title: Yassassin. Label: RCA Victor. Format: 7". Country of issue/origin: Netherlands.  Cat. No.: PB-9417.  Year: 1979.

Dutch issued single from Bowie's underrated 1979 LP 'The Lodger' and the last of the trio done with Brian Eno & which received pretty much zilch in the way of promotion from his record company (and one of the reasons Bowie gave from parting company with RCA in the early 80's).  But perhaps RCA's decision was coloured by the shock reaction to the video for the lead single from the album 'Boys Keep Swinging'.   The A Side is the rather good "Yassassin" - turkish for long live (in case you didn't know), and the best description is Turkish reggae.  And inspired by Bowie's stint in the turkish quarter - Neukoln itself a track on the previous LP.

The flip side is the excellent "Repetition" and a very hard hitting song about the subject matter's shortcomings  - Johnny.  And Johnny's frustrations taken out on that person closest to him - his wife.  No wonder then that the song became a favourite of the feminist new wave bands of the late 70's - The Au Pairs recorded a version on their '79 album and featured it in their live set.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Artist: David Bowie. Title: "Heroes". Label: RCA Victor. Cat. No.: 20629. Format: 7" EP. Year: 1977. Country of origin/issue: Australia. 

Just in case anybody's wandered across this post thinking it may cricket related - I can confirm that this blog doesn't do sport - less o' course it's Liverpool stuffing Scumchester Utd 3-1 like they did on Sunday!  Anyway... here's today post which features this Aussie EP from Bowie which gives three versions of the classic Eno co-written wowness that is "Heroes".
Side One kicks off the original English version. It's followed by "Heros" - which is the French version - and to be honest it's the least successful of the 3.  Whether this was done as an oblique tribute to the bard of Brussels Jacques Brel (one of Bowie's own heroes/influences) I'm not sure.

Side two of the EP offers up the brilliant German version "Helden" which works the best - and here the influences are kind of obvious - Kraftwerk, plus Bowie was living in Berlin at the time - as you are no doubt aware!  The proceedings are rounded off nicely with Bowie and Eno's tribute to the co-founder of said Kraftwerk Florian Schneider in the wonderful form of "V2-Schneider".

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Artist: Marc Bolan. Title: Jasper C. Debussy. Label: Track. Format: 7" (3 Track "Maxi Single"). Country:UK. Cat. No.: 2094 013. Year: 1972.

Today's offering from the vinyl vaults is this 1972 single from Marc Bolan - and a prime example of what happens when an artist gets famous.  Namely their previous label shoves stuff out to capitalize on their former signing's new found fame (after getting a better deal from where they currently are) and in some cases (like here) issuing previously unleased stuff.  The downside of which - as happened here also, is that the artist concerned and/or their current label then issues an injunction to stop said material from being issued - and in the process producing an instant collectors item.  Especially if you happen to be called Marc Bolan.

These 3 tracks were produced by Marc Bolan's then manager Simon Napier-Bell, who was also in charge the Yardbirds - as well as nominally John's Children, and subsequently Wham in the 1980s.  They date from around 1966 and just before Bolan was hooked up with John's Children, and before the band moved from Columbia to Track.  The A Side gives you "Jasper C. Debussy" which was done with a full band and features Nicky Hopkins on piano.  The flip side has Bolan solo on guitar and opens with his the single issued on Parlophone - the rather wonderful "Hippy Gumbo". It's followed by another bit of greatness in the form of "The Perfumed Garden Of Gulliver Smith".

This like the parent album - then titled 'Hard On Love' were scheduled for release in 1972 - before the plug was pulled by Bolan and EMI - the album eventually issued in '74 retitled 'Marc - The Beginning of  the Doves'.  But this single wasn't - and with the picture sleeve will set you back £50 for a mint copy.  I got my copy for a fiver in Reddingtons old shop in Brum opposite Moor Street station, and initially thought it was issued in 1974 like the album - only to discover it was unreleased from 2 years earlier, and worth around the £25 as the sleeve's seen better days.

One thing to add - is who the hell (apart from Simon Napier-Bell and that bloke in Doncaster who runs the Marc Bolan appreciation society) thought it was a good idea to track these recordings an add new backing to them - and fucking them up in the process?  Made the mistake of buying the 'You Scare Me To Death' single when it came out in 1981 and swapped it the next day in Woolies for I think the then current Siouxsie & The Banshees offering.