Move over for Terry Reid

February 15, 2012

Terry Reid is the man who turned down the chance to be lead singer with Led Zeppelin. A friend of Jimmy Page he was asked by Page to join his new group The New Yardbirds, instead he recommended another singer he knew Robert Plant from a midlands group called Band of Joy and he also recommended drummer John Bonham. Jimmy Page hired them both and Led Zeppelin was born.

But what is the story of Terry Reid.      

Terry started in music early at the age of 15 as the singer for Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers before going solo.

In 1968 Terry was a guitarist and singer of his own three~piece power band  and was signed to record producer Mickie Most who had worked with The Animals, Donovan, Jeff Beck amongst others and had a contract with EMI Records to release his records. At this stage Terry was more well~known in the US than in England having had his debut album ‘Bang Bang Your Terry Reid’ released over there. At the time of being asked to join Zeppelin he was about to have his new album ‘Superlungs’ released in both England and the US plus a support slot on the up and coming Cream tour of the States so the future looked bright for this 20~year~old kid! and one listen to the album ‘Superlungs’ and you know why Jimmy Page wanted him in his new band.

I saw Terry play in London in 1969 on the release of this album and he was one of the best live acts I have ever seen and still remains one of my all time favourites. Great Great voice ! His range and power can be heard on tracks ‘Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace’ and ‘Rich Kid Blues’ and the album ‘Superlungs’ is a lost gem! There are some clips of Terry on YouTube for you to see.  

Terry also toured with the Rolling Stones on the 1969 US tour and appeared at the Isle of Wight festival in England in 1970.                                                                                                                 

Both of these albums failed to sell in any quantities and frustrated with the Mickie Most contract situation the producer wouldn’t let him out of his contract for three years, so Terry decided to move to Los Angeles USA and finally released his next record on Atlantic Records in 1973 called ‘River’ which received little fanfare on either shores. This album has a very west coast laid back acoustic performance and is beautiful.

I saw Terry again in the early 70’s at the Marquee Club in London and the crowd wouldn’t let him off the stage and he was happy to play well past midnight that night.

Little was heard of him until 1976 with the release of ‘Seed of Memory’ my favourite Terry Reid album which was produced by ex~ Hollie Graham Nash and features David Lindley on guitar and is great from start to finish and has Terry in fine voice. The album did chart briefly in the USA  and was released on yet another label ABC Records, but unfortunately the label went out of business just after release of the album, so no tour or promotional. Shame ~  because  this should have been the album for him with a mixture of rock and blue ~ eyed soul.

Fast forward to 1979 and another new album ‘Rogue Waves’  on yet another record label Capitol Records but everything seemed right this time with Terry looking like a rock god on the cover but enter punk and disco and some over the top production on the record and it very quickly ended up in the record store delete bins, but the record does hold some magic moments like the opening track  ‘Ain’t No Shadow’ which shines brightly! No more was heard of Terry Reid during the 80’s.                           

I did try and track Terry down in the early 80’s while I was working at Polydor Records in London but ending up speaking to his Dad a couple of times and that was as far as I got.                                             

In the early 90’s he showed up on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise film ‘Days of Thunder’ with a scorching version of the Spencer Davis classic ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and this was followed by a new album on Warners called ‘The Driver’ which is a bit hit and miss but does have a great version of the Waterboys gem ‘The Whole of the Moon’.

If you like your singers in the Paul Rodgers, Stevie Winwood, Stevie Marriott range then Terry Reid will be a real treat for you and he still can be found playing live around the world today. 

  Who Knows ! Maybe Jimmy Page will link up with him one day or pay him a  finders fee for Robert Plant or maybe Jack White will record him~ he is also a big Terry Reid fan.


Jet Harris ~ Me and my Shadows

February 7, 2012

In 1958  two Geordie boys came down to London not to visit the queen but to appear in a talent contest their names were Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch and the name of their skiffle band was The Railroaders, sadly they didn’t win the talent contest and as the rest of the band unhappily returned north Hank & Bruce decided to stick it out and with guitars in hand went for coffee in the 2 i’s coffee bar in London’s Soho district. Later the Geordie boys then met Cliff Richard’s manager John Foster who was putting together a backing band called the Drifters to back Cliff on a UK tour, so in early 1959 with Hank on lead guitar and Bruce on rhythm guitar along with blonde and moody and magnificent Jet Harris on bass and the very young Tony Meehan on drums they set off on the road. The classic Shads line up was born!

This line up had all the girls screaming for the good looking  blonde haired Jet Harris and the boyish smile ofTony Meehan.

EMI records producer Norrie Paramor who also produced Cliff Richard on seeing the boys on tour signed them to their own recording contract. They released two singles as the Drifters both with vocals before changing their name to the Shadows because of the American soul band also called the Drifters.

Their second release as the Shadows was an instrumental song called  ‘Apache’ written by Jerry Lordan and it made it all the way to No. 1 on the charts replacing Cliff ‘s ‘Please Don’t Tease’ at the top. An instrumental classic then and now! more hits were to follow with ‘Man of Mystery’ and  ‘FBI’. 1961 saw the release of their first album which stayed on the charts for a year! 1962 saw the Shadows  appear in the Cliff film ‘The Young Ones’ in which they looked brilliant and they hit the top of the charts again with another brilliant Jerry Lordan composition ‘Wonderful Land’.

Who remembers the Shadows dance steps!.

Music shops at this point saw an upswing in the sale of guitars as everyone wanted to play like Hank Marvin from the Shadows.    

The Shadows personnel was to change during this period with Tony Meehan being replaced on drums because of his constant lateness on by the great Brian Bennett and the blonde Jet Harris being replaced by Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking on bass. Jet Harris has said that he left the band because Cliff was having an affair with his wife and unfortunately Jet has hit the bottle for the rest of his life but Jet & Tony both had great success in the UK charts with ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ and ‘Diamonds’ which are great 45s in their own right and just as good as the Shadows. Sad that both players have now passed away. Brian ‘ Licorice’ Locking would later  be replaced on bass by John Rostill and it is was said that Locking was getting a religious hold over Cliff and the band as Cliff found religion and Hank became a Jehovah’s Witness as Locking was himself. The Shads was to lose their permanent bass player and a good songwriter in 1973 when John Rostill  died  from electrocution in his home recording studio. Very sad. All the way through the Shadows long career Bruce Welch and Hank ruled the band with an iron fist making all the decisions and the direction the band would go in.

The Beatles changed everything in the world in 1963 with the beat boom from Merseyside but the Shadows held on with my Shads favourite song ‘Foot Tapper’ and also ‘Shindig’  topping the charts and once again they appeared in the blockbuster Cliff film ‘Summer Holiday’ which is still a great film today.

This was a great period for the much~loved  British instrumental group of all time and all the great British guitar players as youngsters all took their cue from Hank Marvin and to see Cliff and the Shads on the final reunion tour was a fitting reminder of how great these lads are!

Plenty of Twang!


Unplug those iPods and Plug in your Record Players

December 28, 2011

Vinyl Experience ~ What a difference!

The long-playing record or LP as we know it began its life in the late 40’s as a replacement for the more brittle 78 rpm shellac discs and it clearly worked as the LP is still alive and well today!

The main benefit to the introduction of the vinyl LP was it helped improve durability and the capacity to play up to thirty minutes on each side of the record. However it wasn’t until the birth of Rock n Roll and Elvis that the sales of LPs started to escalate and the first stereo LPs started to appear.

Many albums from the 60’s were issued  in both Mono and Stereo versions, opinions are divided about which versions is the best, with both recordings offering a different listening experience. Early Mono versions do demand a higher price on the collector’s market and UK pressings from this period are highly prized.

With the release of the Beatles ‘Sgt. Peppers’ LP the sales of vinyl exploded in the world-wide market place with huge amounts of vinyl being sold right though  the mid 70’s and early 80’s, with acts like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Michael Jackson selling big amounts, but in the 60’s we also began to see the LP artwork developed into its own art form. The album covers became  as important as the music itself taking on it’s own life  as the artists gained more artist control from the major record labels.

LPs became big business and the packaging became more elaborate often including printed inner sleeves with lyric inserts, posters and the beautiful gate~fold  sleeve design becoming great works of art and with the superior vinyl sound that is something the Compact Disc and the iPod with its more transistor-radio like sound has yet to match!

If you came through your teenage years listening to vinyl , then it is a hard act to follow, but the CD and iPod do have storage and mobility on their side.

During the 80’s the record companies kept finding new ways and gimmicks to help sell their latest releases and the collectable picture disc and the coloured vinyl became very popular also picture sleeves on the 45 rpm records and the great sounding 12″ records and remixes which had its big time in the new wave and disco era.

By the mid 80’s the record companies were ready to introduce the compact disc and push the new format into the market and almost overnight vinyl disappeared from the record shops as the record companies started not to release any big artist on vinyl let alone the smaller ones forcing CDs on the general public!

But the vinyl market would not go away and the record fairs became the place to buy and exchange vinyl during this period.   

Happily the classic albums from the 50’s and 60’s onwards are once again available today on vinyl along with the new releases.                                                                                                                                                           

Let’s see if the iPod is around in five years let alone fifty like vinyl.                                      

The great thing about the newer acts releasing vinyl is that some of them are including free downloads of the album as well so you can have the best of both worlds.

Many people come into my shop and tell me they still have their records and turntables and I urge you all to make room on your stereo units and plug-in your record players and enjoy again the unique experience of listening to vinyl through your hi~fi or headphones.

We will see what the future brings.

 

 

 


The One and Only Billy Fury

November 4, 2011

In the 50’s the arrival of American Rock n Roll had a huge impact on the youth of Britain.

Ronald Wycherley was born in Liverpool on April 17th 1941 and he was one of those teenagers that loved the American rock n rollers! Records by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent stirred the blood of the young teenage Wycherley as their records raced up the British charts week after week! When it came to British rock n roll there wasn’t much out there and the British imitators were sometimes on the feeble side, but Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates did try and give it a good go!                                                                                              

A lot has been written about how Billy Fury was discovered which was a good bit of PR orchestrated by his manager Larry Parnes, the Brian Epstein of the 1950’s who had an eye for quasi ~ talented, good~looking boys and Billy Fury became the jewel in his pop crown. Billy was the boy pop star with the smoldering good looks and little boy lost look, slicked back hair cut, a cross between Elvis and Eddie Cochran. What teenage girl could resist him with his heavy~lidded vaseline eyes, singing the atmospheric ‘ Wondrous Place ‘. The girls went mad!

Billy’s first three top twenty hits were all written by him which is a remarkable achievement at a time when every singer did cover versions of the big USA hits,long before Lennon & McCartney era came along and made it commonplace for artists to record their own songs!

Billy Fury released the wonderfully authentic sounding 10″ album ” The Sound of Fury. ” A true British rock n roll statement, featuring tracks like ‘ That’s Love ‘ and ‘ Turn My Back On You ‘ which features the storming rockabilly twanulations of that cheeky cockney chappie Joe Brown on guitar.                               

What might have been if Billy Fury had stuck to his rock n roll path.

By the early 60’s in a Presley attempt to make him appeal to a wider audience, his management and Decca record company transformed him with huge success into a clean~cut ballad singer. Billy is best remembered for the song ‘ Halfway To Paradise ‘ with reached No. 4 in the UK chart and was quickly followed by the big melodramatic ‘ Jealousy ‘ and ‘ I’d Never Find Another You ‘. Whatever chance of continuing to write his own rock n roll songs has disappeared and fans of Billy’s brand of rock n roll were left to wonder ~ What if ~ as he was now on the conveyor belt of producing hit records ending up with 26 Top 50 hit singles in the 60’s which is pretty impressive.

At the peak of his career whirlwind tours, radio and TV appearances and his films like ‘ Play It Cool ‘ and  ‘ I’ve Gotta Horse ‘ kept him busy and a couple of his many backing bands were the Beatles who Billy thought would be trouble and the Tornadoes who went on to have an enormous worldwide hit with ‘ Telstar ‘ which was produced by the legendary British producer Joe Meek.

By 1964 with the onslaught of Beatlemania and the Merseybeat, solo singers were all struggling but Billy managed to keep the hits coming and by the end of the 60’s only Elvis, The Beatles and Cliff Richard could claim more UK hits than Billy Fury, but the time they were a changing and the hits started to dry up as Fury was starting to sound as old as his records.                                                                                                           

Lots of personal problems existed at this point but in 1973 Billy was offered a cameo role in the classic British rock n roll film ‘ That’ll Be The Day ‘ starring David Essex and Ringo Starr. Fury played Stormy Tempest a rock singer leading the Butlin’s style holiday camp band in the late 50’s which included Keith Moon and Dave Edmunds. Well worth seeing if you haven’t. With his voice and good looks still intact, Billy steals one particular scene by cradling the microphone in one hand close to his mouth while the other hand steadies the mike stand across his thigh all the time looking and performing to the pretty girls in the audience one by one.

Ronco released an LP for the soundtrack and also a 5 track EP of the songs Billy performs in the film and this EP has become very collectable. Rumour has it that during the filming the entire film crew was banned from every hotel on the Isle of Wight because of Ringo’s and Keith Moon’s high booze intake and the resulting mayhem that followed with everyone involved after the days hard shoot.

In 1981 while I was working for Polydor Records in London I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sign Billy Fury to a new recording contract and reach the lower reaches of the UK chart with the 45’s ‘Devil or Angel ‘ and ‘ Love or Money ‘ and we was recording an album with producer Stuart Coleman ( Shakin’ Stevens) and a great studio band which featured  Terry Williams (Rockpile and Dire Straits) on drums, Pete Wingfield on keyboards, Billy Bremner (Rockpile) on guitar, and Mick Green (Johnny Kidd & The Pirates) on guitar. The album was only released after Billy’s untimely death at the age of 42 in 1983.                                                                             

Two things I personally remember about Billy is one time being in the studio with him to record a vocal track and we had to turn down the lights in the studio very low because of his shyness but when he started singing out came this perfect voice which even after twenty years he had not lost! and also a Buddy Holly night at the Lyceum Ballroom in London which was put on by Paul McCartney which I attended with Billy’s manager Tony Read. When Billy Fury was introduced to the crowd he nearly brought the house down with his many fans that were there that evening. Fury also showed great respect to his excited  fans by taking the time to talk to them and to sign every last autograph for then. A true star!

I got really close to Billy Fury in his last years of his life and we became good friends. I remember him as a shy guy almost unsure of himself and his talent. A singer who had been totally ripped off and mismanaged in his career, but his time spent on his farm in Wales in his later years was where he was most contented, there he bred horses and spent a great deal of time bird watching of the feathered kind ~ two of the great loves of his life, far removed from the Fury and bright lights of the music business.                          

I still miss him ~ like many others.

If you visit Liverpool then don’t forget to see the beautiful bronze statue of Billy in the city.


First Encounters of the Vinyl Kind

October 31, 2011

My first encounter with vinyl records was in England when I was 5 years old, the year was 1957 and rock n roll was everywhere. My Auntie Gwen had the 78 rpm record versions of ‘All Shook Up’ and ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis Presley. I knew all the words to those songs as she played them so much and I loved Elvis’s voice, but it was the guitar solo and the machine gun snare drum fills on ‘Hound Dog’ that really caught my ear!

Christmas 1962 and my Mum (God bless her) & Dad bought me my first record player. It was a blue & cream Dansette player which was real hi~fi in those days! Along with the record player came five 45 rpm records that Christmas day and what a present they were!. I remember I stacked them up on the Dansette and watched in awe as they dropped down and played one after the other, down the record would drop and across the arm would come and gently drop down on the record. The pleasure I got from this player and the five records will always hold a special place in my heart.

Here are the records I received Christmas 1962

Elvis Presley was still dominating the British charts back in 1962 and this Christmas week he was at No. 1 with ‘Return To Sender’ on the RCA Victor label. At nine years of age I didn’t really know what ‘Return To Sender’ meant by I loved the record anyway!

 Britain’s answer to Elvis, Cliff Richard was at No. 4 with two songs from his film ‘Summer Holiday’ the A~side was ‘The Next Time’ but it was the B~side that I really loved and played to death, the classic ‘Bachelor Boy’ with Hank Marvin and the Shadows playing behind Cliff. Great words!

At No. 6 this week was Let’s Dance by Chris Montez with the spoken count~in 1 2 3 4 , then that driving back beat Indian drum sound and that memorable organ solo which still sounds great today!.

The big Christmas record that year was at No.9 ~ was by Brenda Lee called  ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ with that raw Boots Randolph sax solo ~ brilliant and it’s still my favourite Xmas record.

At No.10 in the charts was the futuristic ‘ Telstar ‘ by the Tornadoes with the equally brilliant ‘Jungle Fever’ on the B ~ side. Produced by the one and only Joe Meek, this record was the first British instrumental to top both the British and American charts and started my love of instrumental groups.

The dawn of a new era was just around the corner ~ very soon the Beatles would arrive on the charts and take over the world and almost overnight any act that came before them was all washed up and out of date.

The very first record I went out and bought with my pocket-money was by the Kinks and called ‘All Day and All Of The Night’ for the huge sum of  money six shilling and 8 pence from the big department store in Gray, Essex.                               

Great days ~ Long ago and worlds apart                                                                                                                 

How I loved those records ~ still do!

  


45 rpm ~ A Single Pop Revolution

October 4, 2011

I love the 7 ” inch records that play at 45 rpm (which means ~ revolutions per minute). I have 4000 or so of the blighter’s and in the days before Sgt. Peppers and the then huge sales of LPs ( Long Players) these were the iPods of their day!         

Very simple, they are just an A side and a B side on a 7 ” vinyl record called singles and came  in a record company paper bag.   The big companies in the UK in the 60’s were Decca, Pye, EMI, RCA and  Philips

These records were played on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and at the Beeb, sold at local  record stores and their sales made up the music charts of the day in  the UK .

 Teenagers loved them!

On  Thursday evenings the whole family would sit down in front of the telly and watch “ Top of the Pops ” the weekly chart show with DJs (Disc Jockeys) like Jimmy Saville with his long white hair from out of a bottle and a cigar in one hand and a 45 in the other telling us what group or singer had moved up the chart that week. Other DJs on the show were Pete Murray, Stuart Henry and the one and only Tony Blackburn, also let’s not forget Pan’s People dancing up a storm.      

On Friday evening we would watch the stylish Cathy McGowan and the irritating Keith Fordyce present ” Ready Steady Go” with the slogan ” The Weekend Starts Here” and boy it did in one way or another! Cue theme music “54321 “by Manfred Mann and away we go! Essential viewing for any mod teenager who was a dedicated follower of  fashion in swinging London in the 60’s.

On Saturday evening we had the pleasure of  Brian Matthews and ” Thank Your Lucky Stars”  and the unforgettable teenager Janice Nichols of ‘ Oi’ ll give it Foive ‘ fame. and would it be a Hit or a Miss on ‘ Juke Box Jury ” with David Jacobs and how lucky we were to have all these TV shows showing us the best sparkle of the British beat groups and ballad singers. One night in December 63 the Beatles appeared on the “Juke Box Jury” show as the panel of judges and voted the latest Elvis Presley 45 a hit!

Sunday evening we finished it all off with Alan (not ‘alf) Freeman’s  Pick of the Pops ” radio show. After that it was all downhill as the depression set in that evening because Monday morning you would be back at school.                           

Some of the great artists that appeared on these shows were: Dusty Springfield, PJ Proby, The Searchers, Billy Fury, Stones, Sonny & Cher, Beatles, The Seekers, John Barry, Phil Spector and Marianne Faithfull and many more!

The first 45 that I bought was by the Kinks All Day And All Of The Night” c/w “I Gotta Move ”  on Pye Records. This was their second single after ” You Really Got Me’ but more about the Kinks soon pop pickers!


The Fog On The Tyne Is All Mine

September 24, 2011

Newcastle United soccer fans are one of most loyal football fans in the world, week in week out the Toon Army turn up to support their team no matter what division they are in and the people of Newcastle feel the same way about their home town group called Lindisfarne. This British rock group from the 70’s took their name from the little tidal island off the north~eastern coast of England known as Holy Island.                                                                

Signing to the great Charisma record label in 1970 run by the legendary Tony Stratton Smith, their label mates included Genesis, Peter Gabriel and The Nice featuring Keith Emerson.

1970 saw the release of their debut album ‘ Nicely Out Of Tune ‘ a classic folk / rock album which features the song ‘ Lady Eleanor ‘ which became a hit nine months after its initial release date. The album is great , full of great songs and harmonies and has a football sing ~ along atmosphere on some tracks. There is not a bad track on the entire album.

Next album for the band was ‘ Fog on the Tyne ‘ and sometimes the second album can be a let down after the success of the first one as the band is usually on the road touring and have less time to write new songs. Produced by Bob Dylan producer Bob Johnston this is another classic folk rock album from the band and features the top ten single ‘ Meet Me On The Corner ‘  and with the title track both songs became highlights of their live shows.                     

A heavily reworked version of the title track with vocals by footballer  Paul Gascoigne another Newcastle legend was released under the title ‘ Fog On The Tyne ( Revisited ) credited to Gazza and Lindisfarne. It reached No. 2 in the UK charts in 1990.

Lindisfarne were blessed with great singers in Alan Hull, Rod Clements and Ray Jackson. In fact Ray Jackson played mandolin on Rod Stewart’s mega hit ” Maggie May ‘ but Rod forgot his name on the credit on the album. John Peel was used miming on the TV show Top of the Pops playing mandolin, so Ray missed out twice !

Alan Hull was the main songwriter and was a huge talent. On the release of their 3rd album the excellent ‘ Dingly Dell ‘ which was sightly savaged in the UK music press, Hull decided to leave to leave the group and pursue a solo career. In 1973 Alan Hull released ‘ Pipedream ‘ which was like a new Lindisfarne album as three of the band are playing and singing on it! This album is worth finding and features a brilliant distinctive artwork sleeve on the cover as is the album, also ‘ Back To Basics ‘ where Alan Hull plays acoustic  versions of his songs from 1970 onwards is worth finding.                                           

After a brief hiatus, Lindisfarne decided to reform again with the same line up. They hit the charts again in 1978 with the catchy ‘ Run From Home ‘ , but the momentum had been lost and the spirit was not the same.

While working on a new album in 1995, Alan Hull died suddenly from a heart thrombosis. A sad loss, but at least Lindisfarne and Alan Hull left behind a great selection of songs for us to listen too.

We Can All Swing Together !


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