Friday, 30 May 2008

Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs

Here’s one of my early nineties Country & Western mix tapes. Since the source is a cassette tape recording of mostly vinyl (and some cassette), the sound quality is hardly pristine, with both vinyl pop & crackle and tape hiss. I decided not to even try to filter any of this out, partly through laziness, partly for anyone nostalgic for the pre-digital experience. Any high-fidelity seekers after perfection among you will have to look elsewhere.

Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs

I hate Country & Western Volume 3

Side One

  1. Chug-a-lug — Roger Miller
  2. Slow Pole — Pee Wee King
  3. A Satisfied Mind — Porter Wagoner
  4. The Fightin’ Side of Me — Merle Haggard
  5. Don’t Liberate Me (Love Me) — Tammy Wynette
  6. Man in Black — Johnny Cash
  7. Crystal Chandeliers — Charley Pride
  8. Dang me — Roger Miller
  9. Born A Woman — Sandy Posey
  10. Sittin’ and Thinkin’ — Charlie Rich
  11. May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose — ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens
  12. Tumbling Tumbleweeds — Gene Autry
  13. Six More Miles (to the Graveyard) — Hank Williams
  14. Almost Persuaded — David Houston
  15. Six White Horses — Tommy Cash
  16. Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs — Charlie Rich

Download I hate Country & Western Volume 3 — Side 1 MP3 (rapidshare)

Side Two

  1. You All Come — ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens
  2. The Hanging Tree — Marty Robbins
  3. Tennessee Wig-Walk — Bonnie Lou
  4. Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill — Johnny Cash
  5. Heart to Heart Talk — Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan
  6. T B Blues — Jimmy Rodgers
  7. Right or Wrong — Wanda Jackson
  8. I Saw the Light — Hank Williams
  9. Big Iron — Marty Robbins
  10. Blue Bayou — Roy Orbison
  11. There’s Another Place I Can’t Go — Charlie Rich
  12. Four Walls — Jim Reeves
  13. Roving Gambler — Everly Brothers
  14. These Hands — Hank Snow
  15. Waiting for a Train — Jimmy Rodgers
  16. Little Old Wine Drinker Me — Robert Mitchum

Download I hate Country & Western Volume 3 — Side 2 MP3 (rapidshare)

No streaming version this time folks: my poor wee server account cannae handle it (Captain).

If you're looking for the authentic cassette experience, there's a scan of the whole fold-in cover here:

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy

No, No, No! Nothing to do with Nerys Hughes, Mollie Sugden, or Lucian’s rabbits. I’m talking about a sixties all-girl beat combo who, like Carla Lane, took the name from the statues on the top of the Liver Building.

Pete Frame’s intricately hand-lettered flow-diagram histories of rock bands and their members are at once an elegantly simple way of communicating complicated information, and beautiful examples of handmade graphic art. I savoured them wherever I found them (his own Zigzag magazine, for instance, and Sounds), and bought and devoured the book collections. They were so good, it was even a pleasure to read about bands i didn’t care much about, or even actively disliked (Journey, Asia, The Eagles). When his third collection The Beatles and Some Other Guys: Rock Family Trees of the Early Sixties came out, I was a little apprehensive to discover that it contained photographs: “Surely a dilution of the purity of his art?” screamed the Raging Aesthetic Puritan within me. But upon flicking through the book, those doubts vanished when I found this picture:

(Click on any picture for a bigger version)

“Wow! An all-girl mersybeat group! Cool!” I thought. Then I found the entry on them in the previous page’s tree:

This looks pomising: although I’d never heard of them before, they had been big enough in Germany to make two albums. And the one recording mentioned by name was a Bo Diddley song: excellent taste in covers, then. I was hooked: I had to hear them. But how?

I asked all my knowledgeable muso mates: they all said “What? the TV series?” Eventually Davie said I should try George. Of course! I should have thought of George earlier. We even worked in the same building at the time. So the next time I spotted him, in the Smoking Room (yes, this is so long ago that not only were there smoking rooms, but I was in them, smoking), I asked. He frowned, and thought for a moment, and said “Yes, I know who you mean. Might have a track or two, on a compilation, somewhere. Not very good, as I remember.”

Well that was hardly encouraging. I basically stopped looking, after that. But then the internet happened, and I found a few MP3s on the sainted audiogalaxy. And George was right. Not unpleasant, adequately performed, typical mid-sixties British lead-&-chorus-vocal/lead/rhythm/bass/drums beat music.

But still, I had the photograph. Do I have to explain what’s so good about it? Maybe the fact that they all look so individual: that even although they’re doing fake goofy pop group gestures for the camera, their smiles seem fairly genuine.Or the badly hand-painted “LIVER BIRDS” on the oil drum. Oh, go on then, I have to admit it to myself: it’s Sylvia Saunders' definitely dykey “pseudo-sideburn” locks of hair in front of her ears. Frankly, they make her look like me when I was fifteen.

Preparing for this post, I thought I’d have another trawl of the internet, in case there was some lost gem of a good record out there. I did find a few more, but more importantly, I found (drum roll…) A colour version of the photograph!

Woohoo! Their’s even a rubbish painting of a bird on the oil drum! But wait! I found another photograph:

Check out that cup on Val Gell’s head!

Make your own mind up: here’s their top 5 hit in Germany:


Download The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy MP3 (rapidshare)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra – Miss Marple Theme

Nobody could possibly be a bigger Margaret Rutherford fan than me: she's my magic third granny. So when got the chance to watch all of the old Miss Marple movies recently, thanks to my postal DVD rental service, I was surprised by how, well, boring they were. Pedestrian pacing, ludicrous plots, four-square, dull cinematography and editing. I could hardly believe these were the same films that had kept me glued to the telly as a child. No criticism of Rutherford herself, mind: immune to bad scripts and bad direction, she is never anything but delightful to watch.

And the other factor that has not lost any of its sparkle is, of course, Ron Goodwin's fabulous theme tune.

Here it is: go, on stick it on your iPod and walk down the street in shuffle mode: when it comes on, you'll find the gritty urban desolation around you (I'm absolutely convinced that EVERYONE who reads this blog lives in a sprawling, dangerous, crime-ridden ghetto) will suddenly become a grainy black and white home counties village in 1964: particularly when the harpischord bit comes in. Try it.


Download Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra – Miss Marple Theme MP3 (rapidshare)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Earl Vince and The Valiants – Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight

Back in the late seventies, “Fleetwood Mac” was a dirty word (dirty phrase?), at least it was if you were a punk/new-wave/power-pop person like what I was. Alongside Journey, Kansas and Foreigner, they represented all that we hated about smug, comfortable American FM-radio stadium rawk. So how did a groovy plastic (in a good way) punky pop group like the Rezillos get away with doing a Fleetwood Mac cover? After all, they did choose to stop playing the blessed Joe Meek’s Have I The Right when manufactured boy band The Dead End Kids had a minor hit with it.

Well, to begin with, it’s not technically a Fleetwood Mac song . Back in their UK-based, blues-band-fulla-guitarists period in the late sixties, they would goof off by playing pastiches of old rock’n’roll numbers, and calling themselves “Earl Vince and the Valiants”. And one song, this one, managed to get on the B-side of a proper Fleetwood Mac single (Man of the World). The song was also easily the “punkyest” in the Rezillos’ repertoire: with all there other stuff being about science fiction and sculptures and luv, this one was their only song dealing with violence. And it was fast too, at least the way the Rezillos performed it.

So I guess Eugene, Faye and the boys just hoped nobody in the audience had that old Fleetwood Mac single. Or indeed Blues Leftovers, the cheapo Immediate Records compilation where I found it. So here it is, with Jeremy Spencer’s brooding Elvisish (Elvine? Elvistic?) vocal.


Download Earl Vince and The Valiants – Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight MP3 (rapidshare)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Lion – Trinidad, the Land of Calypso

Raphael de Leon, (1908–1999) AKA The Lion, or Roaring Lion, a leading figure in Calypso for over sixty years, was both a popular Calypsonian, with songs like Ugly Woman, Mary Ann and Netty, Netty, and a historian of the genré. In his book Calypso From France to Trinidad: 800 Years of History (1986) he argued against the prevailing idea that Calypso was based on African musical forms, and proposed medieval French troubadour origins.

He even disputed the origin of the name “Calypso”, usually said to be from the word kaicho, from language of the Huassa tribe in Nigeria. Roaring Lion argues that it's from Enrico Caruso. The name of Caruso, the opera superstar of the turn of the century, had in the Trinidad of his youth became a descriptive noun for any singer, or vocal performance. More information in an interview from Variant Magazine in 1991.

Anyway, here’s a recording made in London on the 16th of June 1954, where he teases those who assert that the source of Calypso is anywhere else but the “Land of the Trinity”.


Download The Lion – Trinidad, the Land of Calypso MP3 (rapidshare)

From Caribbean Connections: Black Music in Britain in the early 1950s Volume 2. New Cross records (Charly) NC006 1987. My first vinyl-to-mp3 conversion.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Ken Dodd – Where's Me Shirt

Ken Dodd wasn't the first or last comedian to have hit records, but his hits were distinctly uncomic. He had parallel careers as a successful comic, notably in kids telly, and as a crooner of unbearably saccharine syrupy ballads. If you listened to "Tears". "Love Is Like A Violin", "Promises", "More Than Love" "Let Me Cry On Your Shoulder" or "Tears Won't Wash Away These Heartaches" looking for a giggle, you'd be sadly, sadly disappointed. For every mind-altering, world-improving hippy anthem that misty-eyed sixties survivors remember, there were ten tin-pan-alley atrocities by Ken and his showbiz chums.

Even when Ken did make "funny" records, they usually concerned his truly awful comic creations, the Diddy Men, from his fantasy version of his real home town, Knotty Ash. Take it from me: i was a kid at the time — funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha.

But there was one shining exception that really makes all my analysis bunk. Yes, I've just wasted ten minutes of my life writing this, and twenty seconds of yours reading this. Because Ken did make one comic record in the sixties, that doesn't concern Dicky Mint, Mick the Marmalizer, Little Evan, Hamish McDiddy, Nigel Ponsonby-Smallpiece, Nicky Nugget, Sid Short or Smarty Arty. It's a belter, and here it is:


Download Ken Dodd – Where's Me Shirt MP3 (rapidshare)