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Tony Martin
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Motor City: The Motown Vocal Group Sound
Motor City: The Motown Vocal Group Sound
Price: £8.36

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Motown's doo-wop roots!, 1 Oct. 2015
Casual glance at the track listing, all the usual suspects, Miracles, David Ruffin, Spinners, Temptations, Contours, Marvin Gaye, well known Motown artists, and I'm not a Motown fan. Nor much of a soul fan of the Motown stylie.

So I was gratifyingly satisfied by what I heard, from the Marv Johnson opener - solid slow r&b from '59 (in fact, the very first issue on Tamla) - to more in similar style, plus a great big dollop of doo-wop thru the 89 tracks! Slow and mid-pace mainly, identifiably doo-wop, with a hint of what was to come. I did not know, f'rinstance, that the Temps were rooted in doo-wop; it makes sense, of course, so please excuse my ignorance. Perhaps I should've taken note of the sub-title to this set, 'The Motown Vocal Group Sound'.

Many names were new to me, Voice Masters, Chico Leverett, Satintones, Cap-Tans, Ty Hunter, Ruben Fort, Popcorn & The Mohawks and Lamont Anthony (aka Lamont Dozier), all these from CD1! Later in the set, I don't think these Equadors were the same as the group on RCA, the Valadiers were the first white group signed by Berry Gordy, Singin' Sammy Ward was a bit of an old-style blueser and...so much more that was new to me.

Every act gets a write-up, across the eight different labels - Tamla, Motown, Miracle, Gordy, Mel-o-dy, Anna, Tri-Phi and Harvey. Colour scans of the labels are the only pictorial content, apart from an 'outtake' cover shot of the Temps. This set was compiled by Laurence Cane-Honeysett, notes by Dave Rimmer, I still can't get over it, me diggin' a Motown set, whatever next? If you're into r&b and doo-wop, do check this out, I'm pretty sure you'll get max pleasure. That cover shot may put some off, but as Bo succinctly put it, you caint judge a book by looking at the cover. Amen to that!


All About The Girls
All About The Girls
Price: £9.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pity there's no "Doo lang doo lang doo lang", 28 Sept. 2015
This review is from: All About The Girls (Audio CD)
Sub-titled 'Lost Girl Group Gems Of The 1960s', worthy of brief mention. Why brief? Because I'm only sure of two of the acts, Robin Clark and The Chiffons, and even here the songs were new to me. For me, enjoyable 4/5 tracks at a time, purely shrieking content minimal. Nice notes, plenty of b&w pics, nice colour label scans. Perhaps I'll grow to like it more as I play it a bit at a time. A line from the press release sheet sums it up a treat..."Teenage traumas, doo-daps, sha-la-las and doo-tangs by the bucketload".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2015 9:59 PM GMT


Songs For Swinging Ghosts
Songs For Swinging Ghosts
Price: £9.94

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spooky or what?, 28 Sept. 2015
December 1960 (or more likely, early '61), I slapped down 6/4d for a copy of "Mandrake" b/w "The Witch's Twist", a fine double sided guitar instro by er, Mandrake (Philips PB 1093). So 55 years pass, I've never heard anything else by him (was it a 'him'?), until about 10 minutes ago, with the aid of Dave Burke (Pipeline co-editor, the mag for instro folk) and Google. Mandrake was the pro name for Vinnie Rogers, session guitarist, used a home-made guitar, had about five singles on U.S. Columbia, died in 1965. Bit of an anti-climax really...

This release is aimed at the casual Halloween buyer, 24 tracks, 13 of which are instrumentals, the long mysterious Mandrake being my main reason for getting this, well worth it. Mind you, there are some sad vocals to put up with, e.g., Max Bygraves, or Mike & Bernie Winters, and some of the instro content migh test your patience (Ted Heath, Tony Hatch and Frank Weir as examples). About the only other vocals that raised my interest came from Johnny Otis and Lord Sutch, soft spot for the Kay Starr version. So, for me, the instro content to the rescue, overall not too bad.

Chris Williams & The Students' first single "The Monster" was written and produced by Joe Meek in '59, he certainly had an influence on Charles Blackwell. The Scorpions became Phoenix in the late 60's, The Ravens were an American outfit. Weirdest of the lot is by Janine de Wayleyne, playing her ondes Martenot, which to me sounds like a theremin. According to the notes, nothing's known about The Vampires, tho Parlophone thought them worthy of this A and B. In fact, all these cuts from UK labels, Decca, Columbia, Oriole, Capitol, etc.

To call it a mixed bag is something of an understatement. Dreadful, weird, interesting, even fascinating and tell me, what's that sleeve all about? Looks a bit hippy to me! Still, I've found out about Mandrake, that alone elevates it to 3.5 stars.


Shakin' All Over - Great British Record Labels: HMV
Shakin' All Over - Great British Record Labels: HMV
Price: £9.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine British label, 23 Sept. 2015
This 68 tracker has the edge over the Fontana set (see elsewhere) in my opinion. What with J Kidd & Pirates, Mike Berry w. Outlaws, instros from The Outlaws, Bert Weedon ("Red Guitar" surprisingly rockin'), Krew Kats, Don Lang (plus vocal), but includes Ken Mackintosh & Orch. Vocally, many caught my ear, including Carol 'Cover Queen' Deene (I lusted after her!), Alma Cogan (more covers), Jill Day (solid version of "I Hear You Knocking"), a twee Patsy Ann Noble (busty Antipodean). The aforementioned Mike Berry, Michael Cox, Mike Sagar & Cresters (who he?), Adam Faith (inc laughable version of "High School Confidential"), a surprisingly good version of "Kansas City" from Jack Parnell - if it's the JP Orch., who was the vocalist? Plus the ever present pop schlock/MOR you'd expect from the period. But the comedy of "The Army Game", Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor, plus a recitation by Pat Phoenix, all novelties we could do without.

As with Fontana (and others in this series), compiler Roger Dopson has pulled together an 'interesting' selection, and had fun doing so. As before, gap-fillers and nostalgia fans will benefit. And I heard many an artist that I'd never heard before.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2016 6:53 PM GMT


Are You Sure? Great British Record Labels: Fontana
Are You Sure? Great British Record Labels: Fontana
Price: £9.27

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, I remember Fontana, even bought a couple., 23 Sept. 2015
I can only recall a very few from Fontana. Lee Diamond & The Cherokees "I'll Step Down", a couple from The Hunters, "Teen Scene" (the single version here making its CD debut) and "The Storm", a bit more heft than The Shadows. Listening these many years later, I realise "Gurney Slade" by Max Harris & Group was a lightweight jazz instro, I can only assume it was the bizarre TV prog (The Strange World Of Gurney Slade, starring Anthony Newley) that I so enjoyed that drove me to shell out for this. The biggest pop success on this set is "Are You Sure" by The Allisons, a Eurovision entry, pleasant pop, monster hit on home shores. The bulk of the balance is pretty standard pop schlock and MOR of the period (50's/early 60's), full of names that happily passed me by, with some exceptions. A crop of instros, but these include Chaquito & Orch., and Johnny 'The Gash' Gray, with "Apache", same title but totally different toon.

Fine notes from compiler Roger Dopson, brief but informative, for this (over)generous 68 tracker. Just the kind of release that will delight nostalgia and gap-fillers, and students of early pop. I think...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2015 1:04 PM BST


Link Wray's 3-Track Shack
Link Wray's 3-Track Shack
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.76

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peace, love and guitar, 17 Sept. 2015
Hadn't heard any Link for some years when I bought his "Link Wray" album back in 1971. He was best known to me as a purveyor of wild'n'wooly r&r instrumentals, dating back to the late 50's, as the cliche would have it 'king of the power chord'. (Tho I did enjoy - and bought - a fine vocal version of "Good Rocking Tonight" on Stateside (?) in '65). So was I in for a surprise when I go this LP. Was it the liner notes or the pic of what was a hand painted sign proclaiming Wray's Shack Three Track that intrigued me most? Then it was all vocals, Link coming on like a cross between Mick Jagger and Howlin' Wolf! Yes, there was plenty of guitar and other stuff, but no killer breaks as of yore, and the drummer (the producer, Steve Verroca) was of the basic, ponderous variety. I had to play the album a couple of times before I got to grips with it, after a fashion. This was a new Link Wray, of the hippy persuasion, 'getting it together in the country', with tracks that seemed to go on and on, and a somewhat plodding drumbeat that didn't allow for much variation. But I stuck with it - it was, after all, Link Wray! - but it never was a favoured LP. Probably why I never picked up the follow-ups, "Mordicai Jones" (Polydor), vocals by Gene Johnson, and "Beans And Fatback" (Virgin), Link singing.

A saving grace is the comprehensive liner notes from Dave Burke and Alan Taylor, co-editors of Pipeline mag, nothing to do with oil, it being a long-running quarterly mag, dedicated to instrumentals (www.pipelinemag.co.uk). Not only do they give the full skinny on the three albums, but also the Wray family story, from 1924 on. Plus a trove of label and sleeve shots, including unused artwork for the "Ling Wray" set, interesting novelty. More pix and ephemera, including a Virgin press release.

Maybe one day I'll grow to love these albums, but they're a far cry from "Rumble" and "Jack The Ripper". I only ever saw Link live once, came away with my left ear suitably and impressively deafened for a day or two. Did he sing? Can't remember...


Britain's First Boy Band
Britain's First Boy Band
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spot on title, if nothing else, 13 Sept. 2015
Probably a totally accurate title, well before 'boy bands' were invented. A trio of siblings, led by Denis (piano), Michael (guitar) and Tony (double bass), I'm sure I caught them on a Carrol Levis TV show ("Discoveries"?) mid-50's. They were a variety act, the youngest of such to play The London Palladium in 1956, a year before their first hit, a cover of "A White Sport Coat...", somewhat over-produced, thus depriving Terry Dene of a higher placing. There followed more hits, thru to early 1961, with a dabble in r&r - "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Six Five Jive" - but it appears their heart was in MOR, witness their biggest hit, "Standing On The Corner" from 1960. Competent enough as a variety act, there are a couple of nice enough pop tunes here. Something of a novelty was their vocal approach, wherein they sang in unison, as opposed to harmony.

Not my kinda music, far and away too square, but I appreciate there's something of an audience for this sort of thing. Compiled and annotated by Sam Hick, fully endorsed by the Brothers King, go try www.deniskingmusic.com.


A Whole Lotta Marvin
A Whole Lotta Marvin
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rockin' to country, 13 Sept. 2015
This review is from: A Whole Lotta Marvin (Audio CD)
From his first commercial recording - "Tennessee Houn' Dog Yodel", 1955 for MGM, to "Tough Top Cat" on Warwick, a total of 34 cuts that effectively cover Marvin's most successful years. He wrapped his rich baritone around rockers, hillbilly, rockabilly ("Mr Blues"), straight country ("Gonna Find Me A Bluebird") and the great pop r&r of "Whole Lotta Woman", not to mention "I Dig You Baby", the latter recorded in England, with Brit musicians , in 1958; see, they could do it! There are tracks with Connie Francis and his sister Patty, tho I can't here him on "Crazy Love" (perhaps he's in the backing?). He was a nifty songwriter too, many tunes here self-written, tho "Tough Top Cat" owes most to Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John".

All very listenable and enjoyable, what need for the box set?. Excellent notes by compiler Roger Dopson, but the glaring omission of "Hot And Cold", probably Marvin's most rockin' outing, is nigh-on unforgivable and cost this compilation a star.


Soda Pop Babies Vol.5
Soda Pop Babies Vol.5
Offered by Bear Family Records GmbH
Price: £15.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would-be pop princesses strut their stuff, 22 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Soda Pop Babies Vol.5 (Audio CD)
Full of ladies and groups I'd never heard of, late 50's to early 60's, not my usual listening delight en masse, was I prepared to put up with potentially a bunch of screeching pop chantoozies? I'll give it a go...

And was pleasantly surprised. OK, it's typical teen fare of the period, mainly mid/uptempo, plenty of laughable backing vocals, particularly of the high pitched 'yeah-yeah-yeah' variety, but that was par for course for the times. But at least these girlies could sing and production values were generally high, tho the lyrical content is sometimes open for discussion - well, whadya expect, lost/won love and plenty of teen angst. As to the artists, I knew so very few, such as Britain's Toni Eden, with her original of the Janis Martin toon, with here the best guitar work on the disc (probably by session player Ernie Shear). Damita Jo was a quality act, I well remember Alma Cogan (if only for two prominent features) and everyone will know Pet Clark, Conni Francis and probably Kathy Young. Maybe you'll know the cuts by Kellie Douglas, aka Ellie Greenwich? As for the rest, well, all mysteries to me.

But they're all pretty good, at least listenable. I'll be brave and play it a couple more times, to pick out some faves. But what won an extra star is the booklet. A chunky 44 pages, of which five are of the Classics Records catalogue, colour pic sleeves. The 38 page balance is made up of excellent liner notes, by Bo Berglind and Kent Heinemann (in English), rammed full of b&w and colour pix of the girls, colour label shots and every artist (minus two) get bio pieces, some lengthy, none more so than for Kathy Young, who gets a short article! Apart from major label content, pix of such oddball labels as Toppa, Hurricane, Random, Kerwood, Hit, Iona, Suite 16, Davco and Bevmar catch the eye. Altogether, a fascinating and informative read. If 'teen' is your thing, particularly of the distaff persuasion, it's a winner.


Please Mr Disc Jockey: The Atlantic Vocal Group Sound
Please Mr Disc Jockey: The Atlantic Vocal Group Sound
Price: £9.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early and onwards Atlantic group r&b, 19 Aug. 2015
A generous 90 cuts of rhythm'n'blues vocal groupery from the Atlantic vaults (inc Cat and Atco), 1951 to 1962, from the well known to maybe the somewhat obscure. The Clovers, Atlantic's first r&b vocal act, kick things off with tracks from their first session from 1951 (loads of the cuts throughout the 90 are A's and B's) with the r&b chart topper "Don't You Know...", and there are eight others by the Clovers to consider. The Cardinals have a magnificent 15 tracks, their usually more mellow, bluesy r&b, leaning towards doo wop here and there. The Diamonds only lasted two singles, the Chords were classic one-hit wonders with "Sh-Boom", but as the Chordcats and Sh-Booms, rack up a total of eight tracks.

The Drifters,math and without Clyde McPhatter are all over discs 1 and 2, deservedly, even tho I much prefer Dion's reading of "Ruby Baby"- so sue me! Lesser acts, such as the Sensations, Cookies, Royal Jokers and Bobbettes fill the gaps, with the Robins and Coasters sliding in a couple. Old school r&b from from the Ray-O-Vacs (there's a nice double set from them on Jasmine), Flyers, Superiors, Crescendos, discog nightmare the Hollywood Flames, more from the Bobbettes, a lone Falcons and lesser titles from the Coasters fill out disc three. Apart from the Top Notes, acceptable, and the Isley Bros., proto-soul and not for me.

So what compiler Clive Richardson has done here is offer a selective history of Atlantic r&b, 1951/62, without reliance on too many 'greatest hits', for these we already have. As such, I for one was thankful. Clive also gives some pretty comprehensive liner notes, with a nice selection of b&w pix, colour label shots and original label numbers. And I'm pretty sure I didn't hear the phrase 'doo wop' throughout!


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