Friday, 23 May 2014

The Nashville Teens - Nashville Teens (New World) (1972)

The Nashville Teens hit their commercial peak with their debut single, the John D. Loudermilk penned "Tobacco Road" in 1964 on Decca Records, reaching number 6 in the UK charts. Their second single "Google Eye" release later that year would also rise to a respectable number 10. These records would do pretty well in the U.S too, prompting an LP release but oddly, not in the UK. The band continued to trudge through the 1960's with several flop singles, most of them in the beat style of the highest quality. The band never kept a steady line-up with the exception on singer Art Sharp, who stayed with the band from 1962 to 1972. This may be why Decca never offered the opportunity to record an album for the UK market.

An albums worth of material did turn up though, better late than never in 1972 on the budget label New World. "Nashville Teens" is a collection of some of the band's late sixties singles but also includes some killer unreleased psych, which I'm guessing was recorded at least a few years before it's release date. A few of these songs have appeared on compilations: "Widdicombe Fair" and "Ex Kay One LX" both on Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume 3 and "I'm A Lonely One" on Psychedelia Volume 4. One track which I'm surprised wasn't picked up by a comp is "Day & Night", a moody, heavy folk number which sounds like it could be straight off a soundtrack to an obscure British horror flick. A re-recording of "Tobacco Road" is on there too, although it's pretty similar to the original. With the exception of a couple of so-so blues songs, this is actually a really good compilation which highlights what a great band the Nashville Teens were and I'd imagine they were a killer live act too.

I'll leave you with the opening cut on the LP, the Randy Newman penned, Vic Smith produced "The Biggest Night Of Her Life", also recorded by Harper's Bizzare for their third album "The Secret Life Of...". Released by Decca in September 1967 as a single (backed with the equally ace "Last Minute") for me, is the band's champion song. A hard pop nugget with subtle psychedelic undertones. It should have been a massive hit.

The Nashville Teens - The Biggest Night Of Her Life
(Randy Newman)

Susie's going out tonight to her sixteenth birthday party 
Her shoes are pink, her dress is white 
And she's a beautiful sight to see 
And you can bet it will be the biggest night of her life 

Susie's got a boy she likes 
And his name is Tom Van Fleet 
Susie's parents think he's nice because his hair is always neat 
And you can bet it will be the biggest night of his life 

Two kids out dancing, having fun till the sun comes up 
In a high-school sweater and a paper hat 
What could be wrong with that? 

Susie's going out tonight to a promise she must keep 
She thought about it all last night 
And she was too excited to sleep 
And tonight's gonna be the biggest night of her life

Friday, 9 May 2014

Arthur's Mother - On The Dole (1971)

I'm not sure whether I should call "On The Dole" by Arthur's Mother a novelty record or not. It's not as downright cheesy as "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" by Middle Of The Road but it is very playful a'la "Pushbike Song" by the Mixtures. I'm also probably in the minority, even in obscure pop circles standards, who think that this is a great song. There's a bouncy, upbeat charm about this throwaway tune, released in March 1971, that I just can't resist and any song with the lyrics "kiss me on the helmet" gets a thumbs up from me! These sort of records, for now at least, seem to be ignored by the reissue market. Not psychedelic enough for Mixed Up Minds and too late for Piccadilly Sunshine comps. And so they wind up in an even more embarrassing place than a charity shop/car boot. A poorly written blog. Here!

The man behind Arthur's Mother, as it states on the song writing credit, is John Bryant and was released a year before his self titled solo album (of much more sophisticated songs), also on Polydor records, hit the shelves. Production is handled by Wayne Bickerton (World Of Oz, Giles, Giles & Fripp). A European picture sleeve for the single shows Bryant (top left) joined by a band who except from Mike Wedgewood (bottom right) are unknown to me. Anyone out there recognize them?

The single was a minor hit thanks to some substantial radio play and should be reasonably easy to track down for a cheap price. I should also point out that the b-side, a contrasting acoustic ballad entitled "Butterfly" is comparable to late sixties Bee Gees. One for the Fading Yellow heads. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Rick Jones - Twixt You And Me (1971)

Here's another record with children's television connections. British readers of a certain age will remember Rick Jones from Playschool and Fingerbobs, but I doubt that many will remember the Canadian's two solo albums. I've not heard the second of the two, "Hiya Maya" from 1972, but I do have in my possession his first, "Twixt You And Me". Released on Argo Records in 1971, it contains seven of Jones original compositions, six co-written with Jeffrey Alexander Ryan (Georgie Fame's sideman) and a couple of covers including a flute driven version of the Beatles' "Blackbird". The overall Soft Pop sound of the album will appeal to anyone who likes the first Peter Sarstedt LP. Don't get too excited though, it is by no means a classic, but within it's grand production, courtesy of Frederick Woods, are a few songs worth mentioning on this blog.

Rick Jones - Smell My Fingerbob
"Saskatchewan Sunrise" with it's ultra laid back vocal reminds me of Gerry Rafferty's early solo work. The similarly mellow "Mornin'" strolls along with a spring in it's step, a proper feel good song bringing to mind Kenny Rankin's "Peaceful". "The Child From The Future" is the real winner on here, written in the perspective of a child in the year 2023 where predictably, the planet is left in a bit of a shit hole. It's the closest on the album that we come to rocking out (in a Sandie Shaw, Reviewing The Situation kind of way!) with some swirling Hammond organ and wailing fuzz guitar solo, both low in the mix, naturally!

Because of it's general rarity and nice psychedelic sleeve, eBay sellers might try to fool you into thinking this is an acid folk or a lost stoner psych classic. That's not to say Jones wasn't stoned when he made it! What it is, is pure Soft Pop! Keep your eye out for it in the charity shops and car boots. Dig...