Monday, 14 April 2014

CORDUROY (lost album) 'London England Live'

Amidst the exaggerated swagger of ‘Lad-Rock’ and the self-conscious ‘Brit-Pop’ excesses of the mid-nineteen nineties, the NME Reader’s ‘Best Live Act’ awards, placed an Acid Jazz combo, Corduroy, amongst its top five...not bad for a band of who’s stage set largely consisted of instrumentals. 

Formed in December 1991,and signed to Acid Jazz Records in January 1992, the south-London four-piece’s live performance was energetic and infectious; rubber-band bass runs, buzz-saw guitar lines, creative funky drumming and a relentless soundscape of Hammond organ and melodic electric piano, combined into an adrenaline rush that was exciting, filmic and cartoonish. 

The ‘fabric four’ became an instant hit on the international live circuit, their shows a frenetic celebration of grooviness and fun.  The recordings featured on this disc are highlights from two informal home-town shows (by invitation only) for friends, musicians, and record label in-crowd. Capturing the adrenaline and audacity of a band clearly enjoying the party; these tracks are a memorial to the giddy Acid Jazz years (bum notes and all), and the place where it all started - London England.

    Track listing:

  1. E-Type
  2. The Frighteners
  3. High Havoc
  4. Something In My Eye
  5. Chow Down
  6. Clockwork Man
  7. Skirt Alert
  8. London England
  9. The Corduroy Orgasm Club
  10. Motorhead


  You are invited!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mark Morriss - A Flash Of Darkness

The Bluetones were (and still are) a very popular group, thirteen hit singles and three Top Ten albums can’t be denied. Riding high on a post Brit-pop tsunami, their debut album Expecting To Fly topped the UK album chart; the single Slight Return was only prevented from reaching the Number One spot by the helium hyped novelty record, Spaceman, by Babylon Zoo (remember them?). Mark Morriss (The Bluetones’ ‘boy next door’ lead singer) has recently signed to Acid Jazz Records, and has a solo album out to mark that fact. 

A Flash Of Darkness, like much of The Bluetones’ material, captures a certain ‘Indi- Englishness’, it jangles with the minor guitars chords of the sixties songbook. But unlike the typically suburban whimsy of say Ray Davis of The Kinks, this album, although still musically ebullient, reflects and broods like a French novelist, more Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien than Waterloo Sunset, yet done so with a joy and understated aplomb that sounds refreshing and sprightly instead of tired or world weary; a difficult trick to pull off.

For instance, This Is The Lie (And That’s The Truth) in the wrong hands, could easily have become the theme song for a prozac doused middle-England, a lonely hearts sea shanty to self-delusion and denial; instead it is a stand out track on the album, an infectious, hypnotic and genuinely uplifting song that, expressively, has more in common with Pharrell William’s Happy than Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. The song (as with the album as a whole) is peppered with a subtle humour that’s skilfully applied and sounds optimistic and upbeat.

Some tracks sound like The Bluetones (not surprising as the band worked on the record), songs like the quirky Space Cadet and the anthemic love song Consuela; these sound stylistically familiar and will no doubt be popular live and appease the loyal Bluetones fan base. Other numbers suggest that Mark Morriss has moved into the territory of the travelling troubadour, the folksy melodies of Donovan or Cat Stevens. Either way, A Flash Of Darkness shines with quiet brilliance.   

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Corduroy Boy: Best of the Bohemian Underground Movement

A curious story this, one which spans the best part of a decade and borders on the lines of being an elaborate practical joke.

      A freshly employed A&R man, at East London’s Acid Jazz Records, was working on his first project (a compilation of funky organ numbers) when someone opened an envelope containing a band demo (complete with a professionally printed sleeve); the disc contained just one tune (a funky organ number) which was played in the office, everyone agreed that ‘it was good’ and should make the playlist for the comp.
      A similar coincidence occurred whilst compiling his next project, a psychedelic album; again a nicely presented CD arrived in the post, a different band this time (psychedelic), and again the track made the cut.
       This happened over the course of the next five compilation albums. No one became suspicious that whenever a new album was released, it just so happened, that a new and unheard of band materialised just in time to be included on the final running order. That was until somebody received a mechanical copyright statement, a detailed list of all of the composers featured on the label that year; one name appeared over and over again, the A&R man’s name (the former bass player from Corduroy) -  Richard Searle.

It transpired that this, ‘Corduroy boy’, had included himself, at least once, on every release that he had compiled for the label, sometimes featuring as many as six times on the same album, always under different names and never repeating the same name twice. No clues were given other than the occasional line of label copy (in small print) near the end of the sleeve credits, such and such is ‘a member of the Bohemian Underground Movement’.
      No tracks were ever released by this mysterious Bohemian Underground Movement as such, it being the ‘umbrella’ organisation to which each of the non-existent bands belonged; it's official acronym,‘bum’, was silly, slightly rude and totally fictitious.    

This ‘digital only, double CD, greatest hits box set’ (so it says on the press release) contains twenty-four of the thirty or so tracks released by B.U.M through Acid Jazz Records; it is relentless in its ambition, profoundly weird in its execution, and a very strange listening experience in total.
Stylistically the selection ranges from garage freak-outs (The James Coburn Cool, Groovy Ruben, Jenson Interceptor), whimsical folk songs (Wicca’s World, The Mauve), kitsch instrumentals (Action Band, Kitchener) to funky head-nodders (Soldiers Of Soul, Executive Sweet) but always with an air of the strange about them, a hint of the ridiculous. Some tracks are simply beyond categorisation (The Jugs, nut). There are comparative ‘easy listening’ moments amidst the weird time changes and psychedelic onslaught (Thrush, Illusion of Groove) but all in all, this expansive collection, although undeniably entertaining, smacks of the absurd.
       Maybe that’s the point, if you are in with the joke, then you too are a member of the mysterious Bohemian Underground Movement.

The very best of the Bohemian Underground Movement is available here:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Rare Mod 5

The Rare Mod series grows from strength to strength with another splash of previously unreleased and uber- hard- to- get sixties nuggets. The latest compilation, RM5, boasts twenty swinging rarities, including soul legend Sharon Tandy singing under an alias, a demo version of a freak-beat favourite, a track rumoured to be ‘the king of soul’, plus two tracks, from two bands, containing two members who would eventually form one of the greatest seventies Glam bands ever – The Sweet.

Tracks as follows:

1. The Top Six – I’m A Man
A fantastic version of the Spencer Davis Group classic recorded in 1967.
2. The Montanas – Hey Diddle Diddle (Demo)   
A demo version of the brilliant MCA 45, a little faster with a less cluttered gtr and fewer vocal ad-libs.
3. Debrah Aire – Don’t Be Proud   
Sharon Tandy singing top Northern under an alias in 1966. 
4. Tommy Bishop – Sugar Man
A previously unreleased groover from 1966.
5. The Unknown Mod Band – My Generation     
Mysterious, and compared to The Who's original, brilliantly bad.
6. Train Train – Tony Colton      
A great demo by the writter of a song made famous by Zoot Money and Big Roll Band.
7. Geno WashingtonRock Me Baby
A stonking version of Lil’ Son Jackson’s blues classic  recorded in 1968. 
8. TJ Assembly – Something
Catchy beat pop from another mysterious acytate.
9. The Troop -  You’ll Call My Name 
Featuring Brian Connolly from The Sweet on vocals. 
10. The March Hare – With My Eyes Closed
Featuring Stu Leathwood, the lead singer with The Koobas, a demo version of a track that was issued in 1968.
11. Phaethon’s Brethren – I Put A Spell On You 
This brilliant version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ classic survived on an Emidisc acetate.
12. The Dynamite Orchestra  – Sh’Mon Part 2                
Legend has it that Mr Dynamite is none other than the fabulous Mr. James Brown. 
13. The Disturbance – Green Tamborine
A great version of the Lemon Piper’s bubblegum classic. 
14. Jimmy James & The VagabondsPrivate Number    
Top recording of the Stax classic from 1968.
15. The Unknown Mod – She Is Better
More mysterious sixties pop.
16. All Night Workers – Look At Granny Run Run     
This lot featured on Rare Mod 4, another nice track.
17. The Army – Sugar  
The Army are best known as the group that spawned future Sweet bass player/singer Steve Priest. 
18. Easy Virtue – Bye Bye Honey  
Bubblegum pop.
19. Four Steps Beyond  - Keep Your Hands Off My Baby.
More bubblegum pop.
20. Jeff Curtis And The Flames – Route 66.
Rocking version of the Chuck Berry tune.

Another very strong compilation from Acid Jazz Records, for collectors, dancers and the groovy set.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dave Anthony's Moods

Dave Anthony’s Moods formed in 1965 (originally from Bournemouth) by Hammond Organist Robert Michaels.The group’s name was based around the adopted stage name of lead singer, Tony Head, who later joined The Fleur De Lys and recorded with the legend that is Sharon Tandy, as Tony & Tandy.
The line-up also featured guitarist Tim Large, bassist Bill Jacobs, drummer John DeVekey and Chris Dennis on keys. The horn section featured Bob Downes (tenor sax) Graham Livemore (trombone) and Andy Kirk (trumpet).

The band moved to London early in 1966 and played regualy at such famous swinging venues as the Flamingo, The Marquee, The 100 Club and The Bag O’ Nails. They recorded a single for Parlophone in 1966, New Directions c/w Give It To Me, both featured on this Acid Jazz Records release as part of the seminal Rare Mod series.
The band relocated to Milan in 1967 where the other two tracks, My Baby and Fading Away were recorded. They feature a new vocalist, Roger Peacock (originally from the Mark Leeman Five). Their blend of psychedelic R&B, soul and jazz had critics acclaim them as ‘Italy’s Beatles’. A notable cover version of Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale is well worth hunting down, but the band felt that their live sound was never fully realised on record and, despite this success on the live circuit, Dave Anthony’s Moods split in 1969.  

Part of the second series of Rare Mod 45s, The New Direction EP will not disappoint.