During the heady "rock era" of the '60's and '70's many a successful British group had an R&B or "beat group" skeleton in their closet. SPOOKY TOOTH's was THE V.I.P.s. Formed in 1960 as The Ramrods, mainstays Mike Harrison (vocals & keyboards) and Jimmy Henshaw (guitar) saw many others come and go, but around 1964 the group eventually coalesced with the addition of Frank Kenyon (guitar), Greg Ridley (bass) and Walter Jonestone (drums). Re-naming themselves THE V.I.P.'s and signing with THE KINKS' early manager Larry Page, the band released their first single on RCA Victor. It didn't see much chart action in the UK, but reached #2 on the French charts. Dropping Page the group moved to London, signed with THE ANIMALS' manager Mike Jeffery and began a residency at Hamburg's Star-Club, of BEATLES fame. Later, during a French tour they were briefly joined on keyboards by a budding young star, Keith Emerson. Unfortunately no recordings exist of this iteration. After a German tour where they were recorded by NDR Radio, drummer Johnstone left, replaced by Mike Kellie. THE V.I.P.'s were always more popular on the continent, especially France and Germany, than in their home country. The group also became the first white artists signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records. During another tour with THE MERSEYBEATS, the band was impressed by a young singer down the bill, Joe Cocker, recommending him to Blackwell. Around this time THE V.I.P.'s secured a residency at the then hottest club in London, The Scotch Of St. James, a well-know hangout for the elite hoi polloi of the current swinging like a pendulum rock scene. It was there that THE ANIMALS Chas Chandler asked them if they would mind letting his recent American signing to sit in, a youngster named James Marshall Hendrix. Chandler also asked if they would be interested in becoming Jimi's backing band, but politely refused in deference to guitarist Henshaw, who soon after left the band! Replaced by Luther Grosvenor, the now four-piece group changed their moniker to ART, a more fitting name in the burgeoning psychedelic scene. With Guy Stevens (MOTT THE HOOPLE,FREE,THE CLASH) behind the boards they recorded the album "Supernatural Fairy Tales." Soon afterwards Chris Blackwell introduced them to American vocalist/organist Gary Wright, and with the formation of SPOOKY TOOTH our story ends...for now. Now out-of-print but still fairly reasonable, this nice 2CD digipak set from Repertoire Records will amuse fans of SPOOKY TOOTH and the early British R&B/beat group scene. Grab it before it's gone. Here's the correct tune stack and discographical info.......
DISC ONE: from 1964: 1. Don't Keep Shouting At Me 2:24 (RCA Victor-1427A) 2. She's So Good 2:20 (RCA Victor-1427B) from 1965: 3. Mercy, Mercy 2:26 (Philips-40387A*) 4. That's My Woman 2:10 (Philips-40387B*) 5. Wintertime - as THE VIPPS (CBS-202031A) 6. Anyone - as THE VIPPS (CBS-202031B) from 1966: 7. I Wanna Be Free [Mono Vervion] (Island WIP-3003A and Fontana EP 460.982-1E***) 8. Don't Let It Go (Island WIP-3003B and Fontana EP 460.982-1E***) from 1967: 9. Straight Down To The Bottom (Island WIP-6005A, F-Fontana 460.996-1E and Fontana EP 460.996-1E**) 10. In A Dream (Island WIP-36005A and Fontana EP 460.996-2E**) 11. Smokestack Lightning [Mono Version] (Fontana EP 460.982-2E***) 12. Back Into My Life Again (Fontana EP 460.996-1E**) 13. Every Girl I See (F-Fontana 460.996-2E and Fontana EP 460.996-2E**) 14. Stagger Lee (Fontana EP 460.219-1E****) 15. Rosemarie (Fontana EP 460.219-1E****) 16. Late Night Blues (Fontana EP 460.219-2E****) DISC TWO: 1. I Wanna Be Free [Stereo Version] 2. Smokestack Lightning [Stereo Version] (from 1966 Dutch compilation LP "British Blue-Eyed Soul" Fontana 885.440) 3. You Don't Know Like I Know 4. Stagger Lee 5. No Use Crying 6. I Wanna Be Free 7. Fannie Mae 8. Talk About My Babe 9. Grapes Of Wrath 10. I Got A Woman (from live NDR radio show, Hamburg, DE Oct. 27, 1966) 11. Blue Feeling 12. Sad Story [Unreleased Emidisc acetate)
*U.S. only release **French "Straight To The Bottom" EP *** French "I Wanna be Free" EP ****French "The V.I.P.'s" EP
the band Mike Harrison - vocals & keyboards Jimmy Henshaw - guitar (CD1: 1-8, CD2: 1,3-12) Frank Kenyon - guitar (CD1: 1-8, CD2: 1,3-12) Alf "Greg" Ridley - bass Walter Johnstone - drums (CD1: 1-6, CD2: 1,3-12) Mike Kellie -drums (CD1: 7-16, CD2: 2) Luther Grosvenor - guitar (CD1: 9-16, CD2: 2)
This is the root of Art and Spooky Tooth. Excellent early recordings from the lads that were eventually to give us such classics as Evil Woman and their rocking versions of Tobacco Road and I am a Walruss. Must for Spooky Tooth fans.