Friday, February 24, 2006

Miracle Legion

A six track EP/LP on the Making Waves label from 1985. I remember Andy Kershaw playing The Backyard on his BBC radio show back then and loving it and a short time after found a copy in Brick Lane market on a stall that sold deletions. This is what Trouser Press said of them-

"Criticized for their uncanny resemblance to R.E.M., Connecticut's Miracle Legion cannot be so easily dismissed as rote imitators. There's no denying the obvious similarities (vocals and guitar); thanks to musical creativity, however, Miracle Legion manages to stake out their own territory.

Savvy production techniques and aggressive playing make The Backyard a landmark. Mark Mulcahy's vocals can grate, but not enough to sully the sheer brilliance of the title track, "Stephen Are You There," "Closer to the Wall" and "Butterflies." Surprise Surprise Surprise lacks the honest abandon of The Backyard, an essential ingredient to Miracle Legion's appeal. In spite of improved musicianship and vocals, it's a disappointment."

If only REM sounded as good as this.

Miracle Legion - The Backyard

Miracle Legion - Butterflies

These You Send It files are avaible for seven days or until exhausted.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Otis Williams & The Charms

Doo-wop at it's best found at Brick Lane flea market back in the 80's. The sleeve notes tell us - " Otis Williams was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 3rd. 1936, and when he was sixteen , he successfully auditioned with four companions for Henry Stone who at the time owned the Rockin' label( Stone now owns TK Records). In 1953 Rockin' released the Charms first single "Heaven Only Knows". Later that year King picked up the label and used the Charms record to reactivate the Deluxe label which had been dormant since 1949. The original Charms were Donald Peak, Roland Bradley, Joseph Penn and Richard Parker.
In 1955 the Charms left to join Henry Stone's Chart label where they had two releases ( A third record featuring and Otis Williams master from Rockin' was also released). In 1960 three of the four original Charms returned to Federal as the Escos.

A three man group recorded with Otis during the later part of 1955, but by 1956 the Charms were reorganised into a five man backup group again. The group maintained a distinctive sound however due to Otis' distictive voice.

Downbeat Magazine voted the Charms R & B group of the year for 1955."

Discover more about Otis Williams HERE.

Otis Williams & the Charms - Ling Ting Tong

Otis Williams & the Charms - Gum Drop

These You Send It files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Standells

"The Standells were formed in 1962 by guitarist Tony Valentino and organist Larry Tamblyn. The early line-up included Gary Lane on bass and drummer Gary Leeds, who would later find more success with the Walker Brothers. Leeds was eventually replaced by former Mousketeer Dick Dodd. As for the name the band chose, they would later tell Dick Clark on American Bandstand, they were just "standing around" one day, trying to think up a name for the band. The quartet became a leading attraction in Los Angeles night-spots and recorded some weak selling albums and singles for Liberty, MGM, and Vee Jay. As a popular local band, they also found themselves appearing in the movie "Get Yourself a College Girl", and getting a lot of television work (most notably, a guest appearance on 'The Munsters').

The band managed to hit the upper regions of the U.S. Top 100 with tunes like "Big Boss Man" and "Someday You'll Cry", but they didn't really hit their stride until teaming up with producer Ed Cobb, formerly of the vocal group the Four Preps. Cobb wrote a song called "Dirty Water", which marked quite a change of direction from their previous clean-cut image. At first the group didn't even like the song, but six months after it was released, "Dirty Water" was the number 11 song in the nation.

With their image now considerably toughened, the group issued four albums in quick succession in 1966 and 1967, as well as appearing in (and contributing the theme song to) the psychedelic exploitation movie "Riot on Sunset Strip". Cobb, in addition to writing "Dirty Water," also penned their other singles, including "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White", "Why Pick on Me" and 'Try It" (the last of which was widely banned for its suggestive delivery). The group did write some decent material of their own, such as "All Fall Down", which bears an interesting similarity to some of Pink Floyd's early work.

Tower Records, as was the case with most of its artists, didn't apply intelligent long-range planning to the band's career, releasing too many albums at once. The group didn't help their own cause by issuing an awful vaudeville-rock single, "Don't Tell Me What to Do", under the transparent pseudonym of the Sllednats (Standells spelled backwards). It would be their last recording."

This, their second album on Tower Records, incuded some great songs and some not so good. Their version of Bacharach & David's "Little Red Book" comes quite close to equaling the excellent version by Arthur Lee and Love. They toured with the Stones and even covered "Paint It Black", also on this LP.

Discover more about The Standells HERE.

The Standells - Little Red Book

The Standells - Mainline

The Standells - Have You Ever Spent The Night In Jail

These You Send It files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Billy Merson

More tape findings while the boot sales take a rest. Billy merson had a long career in the music hall, the circus and short films as this British Film Institute blurb describes-

"Billy Merson, a popular British performer and songwriter has been described as one of the greats of the music hall era. He gained considerable fame on the variety, pantomime and musical comedy stage and in 1915 started making two and three-reel comedies for Homeland Productions, shooting over a boathouse in Kew. Merson realised how much his act - even the slapstick routines - depended on comic patter and this is evident in the way he embraced the experiments in film sound. Using Lee De Forest’s 1926 Phonofilm, 'Billy Merson singing Desdemona', has been described as Britain’s first sound film. The reproduction for the film’s sound required an attachment to the projector and electric amplifiers, but the problems of synchronisation were made easier with De Forest’s system because the film carried space for a soundtrack running at the side of the picture, twenty frames behind the picture. Unfortunately, De Forest and Merson’s luck didn’t last. In 1928 one of De Forest’s principal staff, Theodore Case left to work at 20th Century Fox. In an example of the ruthless competition over sound at the time, De Forest’s system was rendered useless as Fox decided to put the sound twenty frames in front of the picture, meaning projectors equipped for De Forest were completely out of synch. Merson eventually went bust after he tried to get a credit from Al Jolson who plagiarised his song 'The Spaniard that Blighted My Life'."

See a short clip of film at the BFI HERE

Billy Merson - Medley/Senora etc.

Billy Merson - The Photo Of The Girl I Left Behind

Billy Merson - The Spaniard That Blighted My Life

These You Send It files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Max Bacon

"Max was the larger-than-life drummer with the Ambrose Orchestra for many years, who also had a unique Jewish-style humour. Prior to joining Ambrose in late 1927, he had been with Leon van Straten's band in 1926 and also was briefly with Fred Elizalde's band (which seems to be made up of Ambrose musicians) and Al Starita's Kit-Cat band (probably a temporary substitute for Eric Little). He was a regular member of Ronnie Munro's band which recorded for Parlophone and Imperial from 1926 to 1929, and also with Arthur Lally's band at Decca in the early 1930s. His stint with Ambrose lasted until 1940 and his wry comments may be heard on a number of comedy titles, including the famous number "Cohen the Crooner (The Crosby of Mile-End)" which is extant on film. On leaving Ambrose, Max went into variety, and also acting, taking small parts in films and television shows."

These two tracks were sent on a cassette from a chap who dubbed them from old 78's using the "oil" method, whatever that means. He said it made for smooth running of the needle through the grooves of scratchy old wax discs. This style of crazy jewish humour reminds me of Stanley Unwin and his nonsense language.

Max Bacon - Little Red Hooding Ride

Max Bacon - William T. Hell

These You Send It files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Joe "Fingers" Carr

"While heavily influenced by Art Tatum, this performer was hardly considered a heavyweight pianist during his career. Born Louis F. Bush, or Busch depending on the source, the keyboard maestro who would also make heavy use of the stage name of Joe "Fingers" Carr managed to make it into Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz, but with the following disclaimer: "A novelty performer rather than a jazz artist." The novelty itself was a kind of heavily sexed-up ragtime piano style that caught on in the very dawn of the hi-fi era. The invention was in sharp contrast to lounge music and would most likely have the opposite effect than a seduction if played in a bachelor pad. Carr began driving his piano this way while working as an A&R man for Capitol. In a brainstorm based on a sharp analysis of current trends, he decided to sign himself up as the mysterious "Fingers."

Discover more about Joe "Fingers" Carr HERE.

Joe "Fingers" Carr - Stars & Stripes Forever

Joe "Fingers" Carr - Entrance of the Gladiators

These You Send It files are available for one week or until exhausted.