Tuesday, October 31, 2023

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Barbara Eden - Miss Barbara Eden (1967)

 Before things get too serious here at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song / album at the end of each month, that could be categorized as being either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.

Any male over the age of 50 would have grown up watching the comedy sitcom 'I Dream Of Jeannie' on T.V, and I am no exception. Jeannie (played by Barbara Eden) was every boy's dream come true and the concept of having a beautiful female genie available for your every whim was almost too much to comprehend!

Rescued from a bottle (and a deserted island) by a U.S. astronaut called Major 'Tony' Nelson, a scantily clad genie named 'Jeannie' becomes his slave and eventually falls in love with him. But unlike most genie stories, there are no three wishes rule - so Jeannie uses her magic all the time, often without talking to her 'Master' about it first.

In the pilot episode, entitled "The Lady in the Bottle" (which premiered on the NBC on Sept, 1965) astronaut Captain Tony Nelson, United States Air Force, is on a space flight when his one-man capsule Stardust One comes down far from the planned recovery area, near a deserted island in the South Pacific. On the beach, Tony notices a strange bottle that rolls by itself. When he rubs it after removing the stopper, smoke starts shooting out and a beautiful Persian-speaking female genie materializes and kisses Tony on the lips, shocking him.

They cannot understand each other until Tony expresses his wish that Jeannie (a homophone of genie) could speak English, which she then does. Then, per his instructions, she "blinks" and causes a recovery helicopter to show up to rescue Tony, who is so grateful, he tells her she is free, but Jeannie, who has fallen in love with Tony at first sight after being trapped for 2,000 years, re-enters her bottle and rolls it into Tony's duffel bag so she can accompany him back home. One of the first things Jeannie does in a subsequent episode is break up Tony's engagement to his commanding general's daughter, Melissa, who, along with that particular general, is never seen or mentioned again.  And so her quest to please her Master begins, with the ultimate aim of making him fall in love with her. And so the fun begins!

Interesting fact: In an interview, Barbara Eden claimed that TV bosses hadn't even thought about her belly button being on screen until someone casually mentioned that it was occasionally visible when the waistband of her costume moved. After that her navel was required to be covered at all times though eagle-eyed viewers could apparently still spot it from time to time. I'd include a picture of it here but it's much too racy! LOL

The Cast From 'I Dream Of Jeannie'

Because the sitcom was such a success, it was not surprising that the 'marketing minions' in the entertainment industry at that time decided to cash in on the popularity of the show's character 'Jeannie' and produce an album of songs recorded by Barbara Eden. And so the LP "Miss Barbara Eden' came about, and of course featured the beautiful Jeannie on the cover. 

The Album

Barbara Eden's voice is the really unexpected standout on this album. As a celebrity "Golden Throat" novelty release, you'd expect her abilities to rival that of Bette Davis, Carol Channing, or Claudine Longet, but she's got a range and power that's surprising and belies her googly jiggly airhead Jayne Mansfield blonde act on the TV show. Her range is in the alto register, a bit higher than Anita Bryant, Anne Murray, or Jo Stafford. The material here is a bit experimental as period contemporary music goes, if approaching bland after several plays (yeah, how listenable are those Dean Martin albums, anyway?). The LP cover is absolutely gorgeous.

I expected this album to be the usual well plowed pre-'55 "Great American Songbook" selections or an endless rehash of the more obvious '60s easy listening vocalists' repertoire' like "The Impossible Dream," "I've Gotta Be Me," and "Moon River" beaten to death again and again, but Barbara Eden avoids this trap. She cherry picks some Nashville songs by Bill Anderson, Mitchell Torok/Ramona Redd, and a Les Paul - Mary Ford 1954 hit. Style on eight of the ten tracks alternates between a semi-rock 'n' roll rocker beat to a Nashville pop/country sound a la Nancy Sinatra's 'Country, My Way' album. 

The last two songs, though, stand apart from the '60s pop/country sound of the other eight. "Single Girl" sounds like a 45 single attempt, with some extra production sound (echo-echo-echo), and the import UK novelty dance song from 1966, "Bend It.", a standout with a sitar in the mix, and music "inspired" by songs from 'Zorba The Greek' soundtrack.

And so, this months WOCK on Vinyl post features an album that ticks the Obscure box (my pristine copy turned up my magic in amongst a pile of 'uninteresting' throwaways at the local Salvos which probably came from a deceased estate).  Up until then, I'd never seen this album before.
Ripped to MP3 (320kps) format, I've included full album artwork and some choice photos from "I Dream Of Jeannie",  including that infamous photo with her Belly Button showing !

A1 I'm A Fool To Care 2:16
A2 I Get The Fever 2:12
A3 Rebel 2:05
A4 Dream 2:30
A5 I Wouldn't Be A Fool 2:13
B1 Heartaches 2:47
B2 Pledge Of Love 2:17
B3 Nobody But A Fool (Would Love You) 2:20
B4 Single Girl 2:35
B5 Bend It! 2:25

Saturday, October 28, 2023

REPOST: Juni & Too Much - Too Much (1971)

(Japanese 1970-1971)
Often labelled as the Japanese Black Sabbath by blowhards and those who’ve not actually heard the music, the strangely named 'Too Much' hailed from the large city port of Kobe, where the band members grew up sucking in all kinds of western influences from the LPs and 7” singles that came in on the boats from the States and the UK. One member of the band – guitarist Junio Nakahara – had spent the late ‘60s in the blues group 'The Helpful Soul', whose sole LP features in this book’s Top 50 on account of its deeply inspired 10-minutes plus epic ‘Peace For Fools’. However, as its audience could never have perceived The Helpful Soul as anything more than another Group Sounds act, guitarist Nakahara decided to jump on the burgeoning New Rock bandwagon by forming the more appropriately named Too Much. Nakahara’s inspiration came from the Too Much concert that The Helpful Soul played with the newly-formed Blues Creation, in Kyoto at the end of February 1970.
The hippy phrase ‘too much’ was already utterly cliched in the West by this time, but it was iconic and easily pronounceable to Japanese. In the process, Nakahara hooked up with hard rock singer Juni Lush, changed his own name to the more substantially New Rock-sounding Tsomu Ogawa!, and dragged high school mates Hideya Kobayashi and Masayuki Aoki along as the rhythm section. They signed a deal with Atlantic Records in the summer of 1970, and wrote a whole slew of mindless proto-metal anthems, including the excellent ‘Grease It Out’, ‘Love Is You’ and ‘Gonna Take You’. These were duly recorded and sounded mindlessly, monolithically, perfectly suited to the lowbrow audience Too Much was aiming to please.
Unfortunately, the Atlantic businessmen saw in the be-afro’d Juni Rush another potential star in the mould of Flower Travellin’ Band’s Joe Yamanaka, and they pressured the band into adding several mawkishly sentimental ballads to the debut LP in order to widen their audience. The results were disastrous. No one needed yet another version of Bobby Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’, particularly the Nipponashville abortion that Too Much delivered. Hey, but neither did they require ‘Song For My Lady’, the arduously phlegmatic 12-minute album closer which arrived replete with mega-string sections, Michel La Grande pianos, Moody Blues /Focus flute solos and not a six-string razor in sight. Too Much was just not enough, and they split soon after the album was released...
Yet another Japanese hard rock band with their only one album. It opens with monstrous "Grease It Out" with typical Sabbath's riff and vocal style (but not with such voice) "like Plant". The second track is so funny - "Love That Blinds Me" - free cover "Since I've Been Loving You" (begins with the words "“Working from early in the morning Till late at night everyday...”) with similar melody. But if not keep in mind this curiosity the rest of material is not bad - and tuff songs ("Love Is You ? Gonna Take You") and power-ballads ("Reminiscence" ? "I Shall Be Released"). And the last composition that ends the album is brilliant- a sympho-prog 12-minutes long "Song For My Lady (Now I Found)" with flute, acoustic and mellotron.

Juni Rush also released a 7" single "Together" with B-side "She Is My lady" which produced by Miki Curtis of Samurai band fame (Mushroom Records – CD-147-Z. Picture Sleeve).
On bass guitar Mr. Curtis used Alan Merrill (future Vodka Collins founding member) and Yuji Harada (Samurai/PYG) on drums on both tracks as a rhythm section. The 45 rpm single was released on Kuni Murai's new label Mushroom records, and they were distributed by Denon-Columbia. This is a freakingly rare single only release by former Helpful Soul and Too Much front man Juni Rush before he sunk away in a deep abyss of alcohol and drug abuse, eventually resulting in him living on the streets. It hardly ever turns up for sale and if so it is usually in the $100's (extract from tiliqua records).

The post consists of FLACs taken from a Japan SHM Remastered CD with full LP artwork included.
I really like this album and because of its obscurity, I wanted to share it with you. It comes highly recommended !
If anyone has the Juni Rush single, I would love to hear it, so please leave a comment.

Track Listing
01. Grease It Out
02. Love That Binds Me

03. Love Is You
04. Reminiscence

05. I Shall Be Released

06. Gonna Take You

07. Song For My Lady (Now I Found)

Band Members:
Juni Rush - Vocals

Tstomu Ogawa (Junio Nakahara) - Guitars

Masayuki Aoki - Bass

Hideya Kobayashi - Drums & Percussion

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Max Merritt And The Meteors - Back Home Live (1977) + Bonus Track

(New Zealand 1956 - 2008)

In January 1971, deciding that his band had now probably done their dash in Australia, Max Merritt decided to make the trip to England that he had always wanted to do, but had been delayed by the accident. So he added two saxophone players and a trumpet player to the line-up and did a National farewell tour, taking in theatres only. The group stopped over for a few gigs in Singapore and then flew on to London.

In England, the group played the British pub circuit, slowly building up a solid following. As their popularity grew, they secured support roles for leading British bands, including Slade and the Moody Blues. Max Merritt and the Meteors returned to Australia in January 1972 to headline the first Sunbury Festival, after which they went on a national pub tour. They came back again in 1973 to do the Sunbury Festival again and then returned to England to concentrate on the British market.

Once again by 1974 it looked like Max was starting to make headway in England when another major problem occurred. His then manager, Peter Raphael, departed, leaving the group with no money and a pile of debts. They were forced to sell their transport to survive, and as a result the band basically fell apart. Dave Russell returned to New Zealand, Bob Bertles accepted a position with top UK jazz band Nucleus and Stewie Speer toured Europe with Alexis Korner. Max was forced to go back to his original trade of laying bricks for a while.

Max, always the determined fighter, never gave up and by the end of 1974 had put together another five-piece band. After Stewie finished the tour he joined back up with Max and together they added Barry Dugan on saxophone, John Gourd on guitar and piano, and Howard 'Fuzz' Deniz on bass guitar. Max also found a new manager, Bill Utley.

Throughout 1975 they continued to build on the pub rock reputation they had developed over the previous couple of years. Later in the year Barry was replaced by Lance Dixon, who was a keyboard player as well as a saxophonist. With his keyboards and Gourd's slide guitar, the new sound emanating from the Meteors was a long way removed from the sounds they were best remembered for in Australia. The soul had gone and they were far less jazz orientated.

In May 1975 Clive Davis, head of Arista Records arrived in London to establish a British branch of the US-based company. Following a recommendation to check out the Meteors on their pub circuit, he liked what he saw and contracted them as his first 'British' signing. A single was recorded and released in July called "A Little Easier"/"Long Time Gone". The single was ignored by most people, but Arista pressed on releasing an album also called "A Little Easier" in September.

Released at the same time was another single from the album called "Slippin' Away"/"I Keep Forgetting". "Slippin' Away" caught the attention of radio program directors in both Australia and New Zealand and with constant playing over the summer of 1975/76 it climbed to number 2 on the Australian national charts becoming their biggest Australian hit ever. The song was also well received in New Zealand where it climbed to number 5 and stayed on the charts for 6 months. The song should have been an international hit, but Arista were still in their set-up stages in England and that made distribution difficult. As a result interested people couldn't get a copy so sales soon tapered off. Meanwhile the album, buoyed by the success of the single in Australia, peaked at number 4 on the Australian charts, but interestingly failed to chart in New Zealand.

The Meteors returned to Australia in June 1976 for a triumphant tour, coinciding with the release of their second Arista album "Out Of The Blue". From it came a re-recorded version of "Let It Slide" and this followed "Slippin' Away" into the charts in Australia. The single was released with "Whisper In My Ear" and "Coming Back" on the B-side, while in New Zealand it had "Gotta Have Your Love" as the flip-side.

Their tour over three weeks was once again performed at only larger theatres and was seen by more than 30,000 people. The first concerts at Melbourne's Dallas Brooks Hall were recorded and later released as an album in 1977 as "Back Home Live", their third and final Arista album. A final single for Arista also came in 1976 called "Blame It On The Reggae". Once again differing B-sides, "Whisper In My Ear" in New Zealand and "Take Part Of Me" in Australia.

If was hard for Max, because he was once again receiving superstar status in Australia, but in England, where he wanted to be, it was still tough going, trying to make it on the pub scene. But it wasn't Max's inability that failed him there, it was the onslaught of punk music that killed the pub rock scene in Britain.

At the end of 1976, Max Merritt and the Meteors broke up as a working band. In 1977, Max relocated to America and signed a solo deal with Polydor Records, releasing two solo albums and several singles over the next 10 years. However, he never reached the same status as his previous albums with the Meteors, and eventually moved into retirement. [extract from sergent.com]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from vinyl (thanks to Sunshine) and full album artwork for vinyl, cassette and CD releases.  This live recording contains his hits from the 70's along with the bonus live track "Respect".  Label scans and all photos are also included.

Track Listing
01  A Little Easier  5:09
02  Wrong Turn  5:14
03  Coming Back  4:07
04  Ain't You Glad You Came  2:34
05  Try a Little Tenderness  4:28
06  Slipping Away  3:15
07  Find a Home  4:49
08  Long Time Gone  4:03
09  Let It Slide  4:03
10  Fannie Mae  4:08
11  Respect (Bonus Track) 2:13

Recorded live at The Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne (June 15 & 16, 1976)

Max Merritt - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Stewart Speer - Drums
Lance Dixon - Keyboards, soprano & tenor saxophone, backing vocals
John Gourd - Guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals
Howard 'Fuzz' Deniz - Bass guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals

Sunday, October 15, 2023

REPOST: Captain Beyond - Dawn Explosion (1977)

(U.S 1971-79)
Captain Beyond has a rather legendary status in the ranks of hard '70s rock. Their fame is actually in the "cult status" category. Dawn Explosion, their third album, was a good disc, but really did not live up to the greatness of the first two releases.
The only personnel change is on lead vocal, where Willie Daffern has replaced Rod Evans, and though Daffern is a decent singer, he didn't have the presence or vocal force that Evans exhibited on their two earlier albums. Daffern started his career as a drummer and in this role he played on albums by Hunger and Truk, the latter a cult act among 70s hard rock konnoisseurs who released a very good album on Columbia in 1970. After his stint in G-Force post Pipedream he released a solo album on Rochsire and a couple with an act called ZoomLenz.
Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt's guitar riffs hard when the going gets tough and waxes melodic at the appropriate introspective moments, but other than one passable pop song ("Do or Die") and an amusing Jeff Beck-ish instrumental ("Oblivion"), the remaining tracks are not really up the standard of their first two albums.

Still, in showcasing the group's unique blend of hard rock, psychedelia, and progressive-type arrangements, there is still some strong material present. The hard-edged and frantic "Icarus" and the nearly ethereal, building mini-epic "Breath of Fire (Part 1 and Part 2)" can arguably stand up to most of the material on the other releases. Where they falter here is on such songs as "If You Please" and "Midnight Memories," which seem to be trying to reach toward accessibility, but come much closer to banality and mediocrity.

If you are a fan of Captain Beyond then you shouldn't pass up this final offering from a legendary band, otherwise, start with their first album which is far superior, and then if you are looking for another fix, then move onto their more recent LP's.

Reinhardt and Caldwell reformed Captain Beyond in 1998 with Jimi Interval on vocals, Dan Frye on keyboards, and Jeff Artabasy on bass. Since then they have been performing at shows and have released a four track EP - Night Train Calling EP (2000).  I will post this at a later stage, so stay tuned.

The rip included here was taken from Vinyl in FLAC Format and includes full album artwork.
Note: CD reissues split "Breath of Fire, Part 1 & Part 2" into two tracks (subtitled "A Speck Within a Sphere" and "Alone in the Cosmos", respectively), and "Oblivion" into three tracks (with the preceding "Space Interlude" and succeeding "Space Reprise" being the sound effects and percussion that bookend the main section of "Oblivion")
Track Listing
01 Do or Die
02 Icarus
03 Sweet Dreams
04 Fantasy
05 Breath of Fire (Parts 1 & 2)
06 If You Please
07 Midnight Memories
08 Oblivion

Band Members
Willy Daffern (vocals)
Lee Dorman (bass, vocals)
Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt (guitar)
Bobby Caldwell (drums)
Captain Beyond Link (281Mb) New Link 25/02/2024

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Nancy Sinatra - Nancy In London (1966) plus Bonus Tracks

(U.S 1961 - Present)

Nancy in London is the third studio album by Nancy Sinatra, released on Reprise Records in 1966. Arranged and conducted by Billy Strange, the album was produced by Lee Hazlewood. It peaked at number 122 on the Billboard 200 chart.

The change of locale for Nancy Sinatra's third album didn't change her approach much: it's dominated by humdrum covers of contemporary pop and rock hits and pop standards, with some Lee Hazlewood country songs thrown in, though his compositions "Friday Child" and "Summer Wine" (the second of which is a Sinatra/Hazlewood duet) are strong, moody highlights.

Nancy Sinatra’s critical reputation has suffered from a strong streak of rock snobbery. The first two editions of Rolling Stone Album Guide simply skipped her. The third gave her albums a dismissive two stars, then the fourth skipped her again. In The Heart & Soul of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles, Dave Marsh included Lee Hazlewood’s production of Rebel Rouser, then dissed his “silly duet” with Nancy on These Boots Are Made For Walking. OK, Dave, but a “duet” is a song with two singers. Lee does not sing on it. Maybe you should actually listen to it. In Rat Pack Confidential, Shawn Levy was gratuitously nasty mentioning ‘terrible songs,’ but was more interested in her shorts, boots and go-go dancers.

But the tide is changing, and things get better … in 2015 Rolling Stone placed Nancy & Lee ninth in their list of Twenty Greatest Duos of All Time. David Hepworth placed Summer Wine on his list of “Greatest B sides of all time” in 2018. He’s right.

Basically, she suffered because she was popular music aristocracy right from the start, and her elaborate musical arrangements indicated a silver spoon beginning.

Nancy In London

While Hazlewood produced the album, Billy Strange arranged it at Pye Studios at Marble Arch in London. Due to British Musician’s Union rules, Strange wasn’t allowed to conduct, so Johnny Harris took over. Eddie Brackett was their long-time engineer.

So why were they in London? They were there to record the James Bond theme You Only Live Twice with John Barry conducting the 80 piece London Philharmonic. That carried over to the album where she describes her youthful Wrecking Crew American backing musicians, and contrasts them:

NANCY: "Recording in London was definitely a different experience than recording in America. First of all, because the guys in America were my age and younger. On BOOTS you know, we had Jimmy Gordon on the drums, he was like a baby; and Chuck Berghofer on bass. Donnie Owens and Al Casey on acoustic guitars, and we had kind of a young trombone section, you know. It was just a youthful kind of a look. When you walked into the studio in London there were guys with grey beards and white hair and it was a little scary, a little intimidating to be recording in London with these wonderful, experienced London Philharmonic-type musicians. And me with my little bitty voice".

Recording in Britain had become a well-trodden route in the wake of The Beatles, led by The Everly Brothers Two Yanks in England. Brenda Lee did an album in 1964. Del Shannon did Home And Away with Andrew Loog Oldham in 1967 although it wasn’t released for decades. Tommy Roe recorded in the UK. Bobby Vee recorded The New Sound From England but did it with Snuff Garrett in America. Usually the point was using British producers and session men, and most often going for British songwriters – both Brenda Lee and Bobby Vee had a go at She Loves You. But Nancy was in London with Lee Hazlewood and Billy Strange and some of the songs such as Hutchinson Jail were country. There are no British songwriters on there either, though when it was issued on CD in 1996 John Barry’s "You Only Live Twice" was a bonus cut. You have to wonder what the point of doing it in London was.

For the third time, we have covers … "On Broadway", "Wishin’ and Hopin’ ", and "The More I See You". Lee Hazlewood was possibly restricting the flow of his own compositions (or was diffident) and she had not yet found another songwriter to provide her with new original material. It would be a long time before Mac Davis took on that role.

"On Broadway" was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and in its best and most famous version recorded for The Drifters, adapted and produced by Leiber & Stoller. (US #9, R&B #7) in 1963. In my memory it was a major UK hit and I pride myself on spotting it and Up On The Roof on release, but not so according to the chart books. It’s such a marvelous song, that a cover four years on was a reasonable idea. A powerful vocal and instrumental backing. Who booked her backing singers? A perennial issue. These guys are not up to The Drifters.

"The End" is a cover of the 1958 Earl Grant song, not The Doors psychotic Oedipal drama. That would have been a fascinating combination. Nancy’s version has had a later life in adverts. It’s very late 50s pop, yet has such a huge orchestra and massive chorus over her semi-spoken early verses.

The next song "Step Aside"  is country and western. It’s credited to Tommy Jennings, brother of Waylon Jennings. It was recorded by Lee Hazlewood’s first discovery, Sanford Clark in 1966 as the B-side to a re-recording of his first hit, "The Fool" written by Hazlewood. The guitarists on the Sanford Clark session were Al Casey, who played on the original 1956 version, and Waylon Jennings. If this hadn’t been recorded in London, no doubt Al Casey would have played on Nancy’s version too. Waylon went on to record the song himself, in a very Johnny Cash’ stripped down style. I assume Lee sourced the song, and he must have decided to push the song in two directions. Nancy’s version is more elaborate than either Sanford Clark or Waylon Jennings, and while the piano and country bass line sound country, the horns are not a country item.

"I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree" is folky. It had been a recent American hit by Just Us, a duo which consisted of Chip Taylor and Al Gorgioni. (US #34, Adult Contemporary #3 in 1966). It gave its title to their album. It’s credited to E. Levitt-C. Monde. Chip Taylor was a major songwriter himself. Good song. As expected, Nancy’s version has the orchestral arrangement, but retains its folky lilting melody.

Nancy makes an excellent job of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s "Wishin’ and Hopin’ " and it suits her voice, but my first choice would be Ani di Franco and my second Dusty Springfield for this song. Dionne Warwick had been the first to record it in 1963. Nancy Sinatra has some of the clipped delivery which Ani di Franco used in her later bare, stripped back version for My Best Friend’s Wedding in 1995. This Nancy take on the song is big and dramatic and she goes for rapid after the solo. Dusty Springfield did it in 1964, and scored a US #6 hit, but it was held back in the UK because Dusty was already #3 with "I Just Don’t Know What To With Myself". So The Merseybeats covered her version and went to #13. She remained identified with the song in the UK, performing it on TV with The Merseybeats at the time. A good cover of a well-known song is usually a good idea on an album, but what did they expect to gain from doing it?

The best track of all is Lee Hazewood's "Summer Wine" … the last track on side one … which wasn’t released as a single until it became the B-side of "Sugar Town" (see left).

"This Little Bird" was a John D. Loudermilk song which had been covered in 1965 by The Nashville Teens (UK #38), then by Marianne Faithfull (UK #6 in May, US #32 in July), so there was a British hit connection, and her second Marianne Faithfull cover after "As Tears Go By" on her Boots LP. Nancy’s version was issued as a single in Japan two years later and was a #15 Japanese hit in January 1969.

"Shades" is the second Lee Hazlewood track to appear on the LP, and as soon as you hear the orchestra at the start and then the loping pace and the deep voice, you know it. Fabulous. "Shades" was also recorded by Lee Hazlewood solo (arranged by Billy Strange) in August 1966, and was slated to appear on his aborted 1967 album for MGM, Something Special. It was shifted to his LHI album in 1967, Lee Hazlewood Presents the 98% American Mom & Apple Pie 1929 Crash Band, and every track on that was a solo version of a Nancy Sinatra hit, except for Houston.

"The More I See You" was another major hit to be covered. It was an older song than I thought … 1945. Like many, I met it it with Chris Montez’s 1966 UK #3 hit. Montez had recorded "Call Me" which Nancy had covered on her previous album. It was on the same MoR album "The More I See You". For me, Chris Montez is Let’s Dance and I never liked his shift to this sort of material. Nancy does it with vibes and horns and soars above it. I never liked the song though.

"Hutchinson Jail" is Lee Hazlewood, with the cowboy in the cold, cold, cold jail after being accused of shooting a man. Nancy sings “I got a man in Wichita and a man in Saginaw” and I thought she meant she’d shot some people there too, but then she adds “They both ain’t heard from me in some time.” Then I realised by “got a man” she meant “a male friend or partner.” It was transparent when Lee had sung “I got a wife in Wichita and a girl in Saginaw.” Lee had recorded it in 1966 solo with simpler backing. He’d told her Boots wasn’t a girls song. This definitely isn’t, but then folk tradition is to ignore the gender of a narrator within a song. Bows on the bass. There is a town of Hutchinson in Kansas, not too far from Wichita.

The first single from Nancy in London was Lee Hazlewood’s "Friday’s Child" (US #36 . It had been the title track of Hazlewood’s solo LP for Reprise in 1965, before working with Nancy. It had not set the world on fire. There’s Nancy singing on her own, a 30 piece orchestra, nice crisp chanting chorus. Britain had some good backing vocalists and these sound like rock backing vocalists rather than the Anita Kerr-style choir used on her American recordings. The most memorable thing is the blues lead guitar solo running all over the song. So if it was recorded in London, it’s not Hazlewood’s regular studio team. So who is the lead guitarist? The blues obsession guitar sounds British to me but Billy Strange was there arranging and conducting and is a guitarist with such a wide range that I suspect it’s him. The drums also sound great, just dragging the beat a tad. It doesn’t sound “British session man” to me, but it might be. [extract from Peter Viney's Blog] https://peterviney.com/peter-viney-music-rock-the-band-record-cover/nancy-sinatra/

You Only Live Twice

For the 1967 Bond film, 'You Only Live Twice', Nancy Sinatra was the first non-British vocalist to sing a theme song for the James Bond film series. The music, as with other scores for Bond films of that era, was composed by John Barry. The song’s lyrics were written by Leslie Bricusse.

Both the Sinatra theme song, and full soundtrack album, scored well on the music charts of that day. The soundtrack for “You Only Live Twice” rose to No. 27 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1967.

NANCY: "Recording 'You Only Live Twice' was a scary experience. There were about 80 symphony musicians and John Barycusse (composer/conductor) and Leslie Bricusse, one of the world's finest lyricists and Chubby Broccoli and his wife and all of the big execs from the Bond movies sitting in the booth. I was just terrified. You could've peeled me up off the floor, I was just a mess. John Barry came out to me after I sort of squeaked through a couple of takes and he said "would you rather I track the band and you come back and do the vocal?" And I said "Oh John, please! Yes!"

I remember saying to him during one of the takes when I was trying so hard to overcome my nerves, "Are you sure you don't want to call Shirley Bassey? I think she's in the parking lot." I went in and did the vocal the following day. Now, when I listen to it I amaze myself, actually, that I got through it. I could sing it a lot better now."

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from my vinyl (another market find) and includes full album artwork for vinyl and CD releases.  Label scans and all photos featured above are inclusive.
I have included some bonus tracks which were also recorded at the time of this LP release, including her movie single "You Only Live Twice", all of which were included in the CD release.

01 On Broadway 2:43
02 The End 2:22
03 Step Aside 2:33
04 I Can't Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree 2:38
05 Summer Wine 3:40
06 Wishin' And Hopin' 2:49
07 This Little Bird 2:07
08 Shades 2:15
09 The More I See You 2:28
10 Hutchinson Jail 2:47
11 Friday's Child 3:00
12 100 Years (Bonus Track)   2:30
13 You Only Live Twice (Bonus Track)  2:55
14 Tony Rome (Bonus Track)  2:23
15 Life is a Trippy Thing (Bonus Track)  2:41

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

REPOST: Ferrets - Dreams of a Love (1977) + Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1975-79)
The Ferrets were an Australian pop / rock band from Melbourne and Sydney, formed in 1975 and disbanded in 1979. They are best known for their début #2 hit single "Don’t Fall in Love" in 1977. Philip Eizenberg (guitar), Kenneth Firth (bass guitar, backing vocals), Billy Miller (vocals, guitar) and David Springfield (guitar, backing vocals) formed The Ferrets and were soon joined by drummer Rick Brewer.
Ken Firth, Phil Eizenberg and Billy Miller had been involved with the Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar (1972—1974) which also included Jon English and John Paul Young. Firth (bass guitar, backing vocals), Miller (vocals, guitar) and Dave Springfield (guitar, backing vocals) were all members of hard rockers Buster Brown (which also featured vocalist Angry Anderson later of Rose Tattoo). In 1975, the trio left Buster Brown to join with guitarist Eizenberg and formed The Ferrets. Drummer Rick Brewer (ex-Zoot) joined in 1976 together with Miller’s sisters Jane Miller (backing vocals, keyboard) and Pam Miller (backing vocals). They were now a seven-piece band.
After favourable reactions from audiences in Melbourne and Sydney, The Ferrets produced a demo tape that caught the attention of Ian "Molly" Meldrum talent coordinator for ABC-TV series Countdown. Meldrum signed them to Mushroom Records and started producing their début album Dreams of a Love on 19 July, 1976. After nearly a year, production was still incomplete, so The Ferrets took over (assisted by recording engineers Tony Cohen and Ian MacKenzie) and Meldrum was attributed as "Willie Everfinish" on the album cover. Album production was finalized on 15 August 1977. Meldrum had carefully crafted their first single’s A side "Lies" taking weeks but the B side "Don’t Fall in Love" (written by Ian Davis and Firth) was rushed in three hours. The Ferrets premiered on Countdown in an episode compèred by Jon English however, they used their B side. "Don’t Fall in Love" quickly sold out its initial pressing and many customers wanted a copy of The Ferrets' début album – there was concern at Mushroom Records as Meldrum had not organised an album cover: a white hand stamped cardboard sleeve was issued with a promise of the album artwork to follow!

On Stage At The Palais 'Nightmoves' Concert
 The Ferrets released a promo as the single rocketed to #1 on Melbourne’s charts and #2 Nationally. They were awarded with "Best Australian TV Performer" at the 1977 King of Pop Awards for their Countdown appearances. Although generally remembered for their biggest hit, their follow-up single "Janie May" reached #19 in Melbourne and was on Countdown episode of 13 November 1977 (featured infamous 'Prince Charles Interview'). Their debut album Dreams of a Love achieved Gold record status and the long awaited album cover depicted a model (Wendy Bannister) holding a snarling ferret on her shoulder. [From Wikipedia]
I saw The Ferrets play at the Nightmoves Concert, held at the Palais Theatre in St.Kilda in 1977 and was blown away with their huge production numbers and full on theatrical stage productions, influenced by Miller's earlier associations with big stage productions like 'Jesus Christ Superstar' no doubt (they even had a 20 strong boys choir singing in the background of 'Just Like The Stars')
They were a very talented but highly under rated band of the 70's and really deserved more recognition as been the forerunners for big production bands like John Farnham and Little River Band in the 80's.
Dave Gray writes "Billy Miller is a superb guitar player, arranger and vocalist. He approaches music and life with a real sense of delight and play. I'm not saying he's a blissed out , mystic hippie. I mean that he has his priorities and one of those seems to be that he doesn't expect to be bummed out every time he turns around a corner. He's tough and wiry and cranky and he's a complete joy to play with. He knows his nuts and his bolts".

After the Ferrets, countless bands and gigs followed for Miller, who still plays in his original band and up until 2004 worked in a music production company (Duffield Kenihan Pty Ltd) creating music for TV commercials, and co-producing the music for "Round The Twist" (Children's TV Foundation). Billy also composed music for several short films, including "The Bird" (VCA 1996), which won best music in its category. In 2008, Billy was busy playing gigs with Stephen Cummings and his own band, recording a new album, composing and producing soundtracks for films in his studio, starring in documentaries and barracking for his beloved Saints (St Kilda Football Club). Now, if they had won the 2009 Grand Final this year against the Cats, can you imagine the party he would have had with St.Kilda's other Number #1 supporter - Molly Meldrum!
For more information about Molly's association with the Ferrets, have a look at Rectro Universe's posting 'Don't fall in love with a Ferret'.

The rip included here was taken from my CD in FLAC format and the bonus 1978 singles Side A & B from vinyl (thanks to Ozzie Music Man). Full album artwork is also included.
Track Listing
01 - Prelude
02 - You Belong With Me
03 - Bye Bye Baby
04 - Lies
05 - Killing Ourselves
06 - Janie May
07 - Dreams Of Love
08 - My Old Dog
09 - El Quicko
10 - Don't Fall In Love
11 - The Children Play
12 - Just Like The Stars
13 - Magic In The Sand
14 - Are You Looking At Me (Bonus Side A single)
15 - Holloway (Bonus Side B single)

The Ferrets Link (331Mb)