Wednesday, February 29, 2012


OK, So with these two I may make my taste questionable to some who already think my opinions are "different" or "weird," but I don't care about what other people may think of music, or think looks good on them in a fashion parade, or all sorts.
   Paris Pilot is one of the strangest records in my collection. I've actually had 3 copies over the years or 4 copies max and my new acquisition of one is the only clean one I've ever had and had to come from record dealer superstar Jerome Tomko. I'm afraid I know nothing about Paris Pilot and despite a really cool cover photo of the band in Victorian Era vaudeville show dress I can't even tell you who they were as the album doesn't credit any performers on it. A studio concoction? More than one band on this schizo LP? Who knows.... My guess is this was the work of a band not from the South where it was recorded, but probably from the East Coast area where they would have been a popular Club act. You get my first take on it then- a nightclub psych record with a wide variety of angles, but repeated listenings grow more enjoyable each time. Even the filler on this record is so bizarre that in some strange kind of magical way it all works.
   Things begin with something hard for anyone to tackle when it comes to the listener, but I love their long slowed down take on Sonny Bono's "The Beat Goes On" coz it's so damned strange. The song is full of heavy swirling fuzz guitars, plodding organ, amateurish drumming, and a garage level attempt at a "Soul Rock" vocal on top of the whole thing. The singer sounds like they waited a bit too long to nudge him from his nap or else that he's so stoned that he's just leaning half drunkenly into the monitor in a low rent imitation of Jim Morrison. That's only on the first listening. You think he's not got that good a voice and that this is really basement/garage stuff with some neat production tricks thrown in. Wrong. I made that error the first few plays. Playing this a few more times it almost starts sounding progressive in a weird way, half-sophisticated even, but with that nightclub psych band gone into a once-in-a-lifetime studio chance thing in the background.
    Things get much more interesting when the band go into songs like "Winter's Child" which is a beautiful ballad full of really attractive harmonies and an excellent right there perfect lead vocal. No amateurs are these guys when the material is more interesting and even that "The Beat Goes On" was kind of charming. "Winter's Child" again has the soul influences,  but this time more Gospel Mod if such a thing can exist! There's a bit of an Anglophile vibe which really carries over into the album's standout track "Shades Of Doubt." No one who loves psych especially British psych would hear this and not flip over how good it is. It sounds like The Apple! It even has a bit of July or Koobas about it! Wow! The sinister Jon Lord like organ and heavy fuzz drenched guitars form a big wall of sound which the melodic confident harmonies slice right through. Brilliant stuff and as you can see if you got past that first track's oddness then you're in for some fine material here.
  What could I say about "Temptation's Bout To Get Me?" Baffling. I don't know if anyone ever had a hit with this fake soul song, but there sure are a few covers out there and this one is the strangest yet. The harmonies don't make much sense. It sounds like they are recorded wrong or just like they are drunk. It isn't tight anymore the way it was on the previous two songs. Musically it has a nice sympathetically soulful groove to it and the crispness of the playing is what saves it. The lead voice will be impossible for some to get past and makes "The Beat Goes On" sound lively. He really sounds like he's struggling, comatose on this one and then lurches into a sort of mock soul shout at the end of every chorus. Weird, even kind of intriguing.
     By the time of "Long Way To Go" which closes Side One you think that something, some kind of polarization, is going on here. This song is again back to the brilliance of "Shades Of Doubt" and "Winter's Child" and has all the Paris Pilot trademarks: great harmonies, soft yet confident lead voice, expert playing, and some beautiful melodies. They must have been pissed about those two covers. It sounds like two completely different bands when they are doing original material written by producer Don Nix and when they do two interesting,  but not all-the-way-there covers.
  Side Two is only 4 songs clocking it at around 15 minutes! What the Hell!? Shorter than 25th Regiment's Ecology classic Side Two it might be. There is no filler here. Even a song written by Danny Hutton (of Three Dog Night fame and infamous heroin junkie I believe) called "Roses And Rainbows" is great. "Overton Park Flip" is a Hendrix tribute psych/R&B raveup complete with Jimi alike vocals and flamboyant guitar/organ passages. "Miss Rita Famous" could have been a hit, but it ain't AM radio fodder as it is too good to just be seen as another pop track. It has much in common with the high standard of the original material on Side One. The dreamy harmonies turn psychedelic at the end with shades of The Gods and Asgard even! The songs that close out the album "Roses And Rainbows" which is fine pop psych and the Gospel/soul lilting "Don't Let It" are fine examples of transitional 60s into 70s melodic Anglophile music. A very nice album and in fact a very special album. There's something special about Paris Pilot beyond just a great cover and some nice songs. It's a grower, and a good one at that. Don't pass this one by if you see it in clean condition- it costs a bit, but definitely a keeper for my collection. So it must be good, then.
    There were so many scam records released in Germany just in the span of 1970-1972 that a whole book could be written about them sans the disgusting offensive term "Krautrock" (for whoever instigated this nonsensical wording how about "Yank Bonehead"). Yes, we had Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Brigade who were really Wind, Electric Food and a million offshoots who were really Lucifer's Friend, and about a million others. Funny thing is, all of these records are really good when you hear them! The first Electric Food is a classic and is really flipped out- way more so than substandard bands championed as classics like Can, Faust, Guru Guru, Mythos (who flat out suck), and Ash Ra Temple.
   I like the Germans when they rock and rock hard. Beat Club International I was only made aware of by Ashley Johnson who is now in poor health and needs our prayers. Ashley's prices are hugely astronomical, but Ashley bought back in the days when things were way more money for weird import records from the earlier era of the 70s. His description got me hooked and having played this album dozens of times- thanks Ashley!
      Electric Food considered, Wind considered, this may be the best German heavy exploito album ever made. The guitars rip and roar with a thundering attack while the organ bashes, grooves, swings, and rocks out with furious drums and bass. To boot it's all mixed together with killer pop hooks and violent lyrics. The lyrics are completely bizarre and in the case of two songs they take folk song titles and obliterate them. "Wayfaring Stranger" has the title mispronounced as "Pooor Pooor Pooor Way Farring Ztranger OH Yeah!" while "Matty Groves" deliberately trashes the classic folk murder ballad turning it into comedy. "Aunt Rhody" which opens the album is one of the heaviest German psych tracks ever. It really hammers you and the sinister multitracked high and low voices are pretty freaked out. Side One alone stands as a perfect example of what made Northern Europe so interesting for music during the post beat boom era right through the 70s. Nobody cared about anything except making music. Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, Denmark- they all just wanted to play good music and create something that wasn't artificial sounding. There's huge differences between countries with Germany and Holland taking the cake for heavy stuff while the Finnish seemed to like their heavy rock with a few more laid back touches (see superb Elonkorjuu). There isn't anything too quiet here and the whole tone of Beat Club International is not beat one bit- it's heavy German psych at its absolute best. Catchy melodies and fantastic different singers are to be found throughout. This is credited to "Das Louis Shampton Trio" and the whole concept of this as a trio is even more absurd than as a Beat Club! Songs have variations. There's one quiet dreamy Procol Harum like ballad "King In Heaven" while songs like "Drill Your Dog," "Railroad," and "Mr. Whyler" are more prominent here- heavy psych with bizarre vocals and lyrics. I know this stuff isn't for everybody, but I love it!
    We'll never know who was behind Beat Club International, but my guess is those friends of Lucifer had something to do with it. What makes this album so impressive is not just the excellent musicianship, great production job, and very strong vocals, but the huge amount of fun I have listening to it. This may be dark and grim stuff lyrically, but the whole thing is done to have a rock and roll fun filled time and you get that with this. I would rate this album higher than a band as great as Gift even. They took themselves and their music a little too seriously and had no variations. There's variation here even though most of it is wild frenetic heavy psych rock. I'd strongly recommend you find this ultra rarity before the big discovery is made which DOES MAKE IT A $600 RECORD! A great time will be had when you hear it. love till next time

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Sorry for being away from my writings for so long!
The truth is that I've been buried in records to listen to and absorb for ages. Also, my job as a cat caretaker at the SAVE animal shelter (you should donate to them if you're local to the Princeton area- they are the one pet shelter who never put the animals down if they aren't adopted) and things have been kind of not so jolly.
I no longer can see England as the Paradise I dreamed it is and I guess these 3 rather ferociously "Decline And Fall Of The British Empire" records from back in the 1960s prove that. However, England is still special and I still hope to go there this summer and meet some of my true mates there.
  England has been through some rough times, but during the 60s the whole world was in an upheaval. A revolution was going on and music was part of that revolution. No rules were set as to what you could and couldn't do anymore and if there was a rule the mindset then was to break it. A complete opposite of when the music industry got greedy after that adventurous period between 1966-1970. I've said July is the best psych record ever. Well, I would stick by that and just change it to high rank in the top 5- it isn't like these 3 where a darker, more menacing sound that foreshadows the hard rock assault of the early 70s underground scene is prevalent for the entire album. I tend to prefer the harder, darker, more "underground" British psych of The Koobas and these other two- underground but very catchy. Even into the early 1970s or mid 1970s England's underground was producing some excellent music that I would say is some of the best in the world. The problem would be that England was also producing the worst shite ever recorded by the likes of Deep Feeling, Beggars Opera (although this Scottish band were to change after 3 horrible albums into a solid hard rocking guitar band after booting out horrid vocalist Martin Griffiths), Magna Carta, and Capability Brown (who I refer to as "Incapability Brown"). Had the rot set in there too like I've said it had in America? Am I just one of those music fans who complains all the time about things like sick gory lyric writing, bad vocals, horrible playing, and the like that I can pick out of any bad prog rock release? Well, no. I love progressive rock when done properly, but prog has to have muscle or else a real aching sense of beauty or it just won't work. I'm more of a Camel or Yes person than Gentle Giant or the band I'll take over them any day Genesis. Genesis actually could be seen as a continuation of the unrest in Bulldog Breed, Rust, and The Koobas in the 1970s and it would be funny to speculate that since the late Tony Stratton Smith managed Genesis after The Koobas the whole idea of "The Knife" was ripped off from "Barricades." The problem with Genesis was that they had all the perfect ingredients, but the cake wasn't always the same when they baked it. A little more spice would have helped, but give them credit- they were a good hard working band who went on to major success only after about 4 or 5 years of being a band who had not one hit to their name. The problem with post 1969 British music is that it went into a million different directions some of which was marvelous and some of it just horrible. I love the 1970s and I'll stretch it into the 1980s that some great music was still being made. Even in the 90s there was a sort of revival of British pop psych only harder edged with the likes of Blur, Radiohead, Portishead (these last two would have qualified as ULTRA UNDERGROUND in the 60s/70s) and The Stone Roses NOT Oasis (pretend Beatles- just teenybopper re-baked rubbish). Where the fun really is though is back in 1968/1969 when these three gems were conceived and/or released. In the case of The Koobas and Bulldog Breed 1969 was their year. Rust were an Anglo/Australian heavy psych/rock trio who were living in German and recorded their album there in it has been said 1968 or 1969. All three of these records rock and rock hard.
                                     The Koobas let's start with, shall we?
The Koobas formed in 1964 in Liverpool just in time to be a small part of the Merseybeat boom that was started by The Beatles. They even shared the same manager in Brian Epstein. Luck was incredibly bad for The Koobas for their entire career. As 1965 turned to 1966 then 1967 to 1968 excellent singles were recorded and miraculously none of them were huge hits. From the beginning of their career till the end the band was comprised of the late Stu Leathwood (Vocals, guitars, keyboards), Roy Morris (Lead guitar, vocals, sometimes lead vocals on their 1969 self titled masterpiece), Keith Ellis (Bass guitar, vocals), and Tony O'Reilly (Drums, percussion, backing vocals). Despite the huge amount of talent and adventurousness contained in the group it just wouldn't happen for them until they had a bit of a splash with a version of Cat Stevens "The First Cut Is The Deepest" which Rod Stewart would later rip the vocal from for his version. I love Rod Stewart when he was great, but listening to The Koobas record on the songs Stu Leathwood sings sometimes I think that Rod owned a copy of the record and played it a million times while calculating his next career move. Leathwood's next career move after The Koobas really shows the similarity. He would go on to just one more band- Harlan County who were a steal of Rod Stewart's early solo releases and a good steal at that.  It could be it's just an uncanny resemblance- high, throaty, soulful, melodic vocals, but not too high. The high pitched harmonies of The Koobas on their eponymous 1969 album and reissued brilliantly by the long since defunct Bam Curuso as Barricades recall Uriah Heep. This was before Uriah Heep would perfect the high operatic harmony singing that even now is their trademark, so it would be interesting to speculate perhaps MR. Ken Hensley or David Byron too had a copy of The Koobas. Indeed, Hensley's pre Uriah Heep projects The Gods and Head Machine bear a resemblance to The Koobas' sound.
      The high lead voice on some tracks on The Koobas is lead guitarist Roy Morris. The Koobas had something to say that had been bottled up for too long. Their lack of action on the singles front wasn't exactly going to lead to an album so with the show just about over before throwing the towel in just like The Zombies had done with Oddesey And Oracle they went into the studio and made their masterwork. They'd never followed conventions nay they'd defied them, so view the album as an act of defiance. A rock and roll band through and through with pop hooks thrown in they made an album of solid hard edged psychedelia that dabbled in prog rock, pop, and soulful moves whilst every song was drawn together by a funny little bit of playfulness. Of the 3 masterpieces of British psych here The Koobas are the least downtrodden sounding, but underneath the lively exterior there is a lot going on that suggests a kind of "Decline and Fall" concept. While it explodes in "Barricades" which could be called psychedelic metal the rest of the album takes old English music hall traditions in an effort to illustrate a kind of sequence of songs more about endings than beginnings. It could be pure speculation on my part, but I think the "Ending" concept is more than just about the end of the band. The troubles had started in Northern Ireland. There were riots everywhere around the world. Flower power was dying out fast. England's future as a world power looked questionable and the whole idea of an "Empire" was beginning to seem rather dated and bewildering. Ray Davis and The Kinks would release Arthur and that would be a theme Ray would come back to many times since that seminal record, but the 1969 album that takes the cake for Prototype hard rock psych/poppsych must be The Koobas. Currently the value of this jewel is over 1,000 US dollars and also over 1,000 pounds! Ouch! When an album doesn't sell and a cult ensues around it look for things like that to happen. It must really piss the band off they made nothing off it, but the adulation then again may make it all worthwhile.
     Song highlights are many. Here's a personal little run through. "Royston Rose" is an out and out rocker beginning the record with heavy dirty guitars, strong vocals, pounding rhythms, and a really kind of subtly sinister groove. It sounds like they are about to turn into Led Zeppelin on this one! Roy Morris has a funny voice- very high and with a slight lisp, playful and unpretentious. Very impressive song and a great way to start an album. "Where Are The Friends" is a more reflective number with sombre atmosphere and a fantastic lead vocal from Stu Leathwood in a song again powered by superb guitar riffs. Side One gets really heavy again with "Constantly Changing" which manages to combine the high Uriah Heep progressive leanings with the hard rock side of UH or Zeppelin of "Royston Rose." Like the title this song constantly changes- you don't know where it's going to end up! "Here's A Day" is the most lighthearted track on Side One- a very pleasant slice of pop psych reminiscent of The Idle Race- another great band who never made it despite 3 brilliant LP releases. This song is about a day that goes nowhere. "Fade Forever" closes the side and could be called Heavy psychedelic R&B! Leathwood's soul vocals are understated, unpretentious, and really shine on this track along with the hard hitting yet melodic guitars, bass, and drums. There's some nice mellotron passages too.
It's Side Two's opener that is the most violent track musically, lyrically, and vocally- the freaked out "Barricades." Heavy piano and guitar riffs at the same time drive along this track of bomb effects, screaming guitars, a recitation of Rupert Brooke's "Grantchester" and just about everything else they could think of. The lyrics are based on the riots, destruction, unrest, and violence erupting everywhere. As stated, I can hear some of the beginnings of "The Knife" by Genesis here as it is a very disquieting, riveting experience. Unfortunately, Side Two then goes into the one dud track here- an awful version of "Piece Of My Heart." This is so boring I don't think I even want to waste my pen on it. It sounds almost bad on purpose, but not even funny just stupid. The Marmalade did it a lot better. "Gold Leaf Tree" will wake you up if the previous track made you full of inertia. This is progressive rock before it really had ANY ground rules set. Keith Ellis excels both as the main writer here and for his brilliant driving bass parts. The strong vocals, soaring vibrant music, brilliant Mod drumming, and beautiful lyrics make this a real highlight. Amazing song! "Mr. Claire" is a Stu Leathwood track and very joyful, very nice. It's here that he sounds the most like Rod Stewart, incidentally. "Mr. Claire" has some swinging guitar and rhythm section work, great mellotron, and a beautiful vocal from Leathwood. The closing track "Circus" is the most celebratory offering here, but beneath all the laughs is another early progressive number that makes you never know what to expect next. I can hear The Beatles in this one where for the rest of the album I'm thinking more Small Faces gone heavier, but there's that Marriott/Lane brilliance in here too. There's lots of fun on this track with lines about lions, elephants, funny voice overs, just a blowout of joy. Then when the album ends you really wish there could be an answer for some of the heavier stuff on here lyrically. Is life a joke to laugh at and take lightly? I don't have the answer. Maybe The Koobas had it and didn't have enough time to make it more obvious to us. This album is fantastical. It's about the best British psych album ever along with the other two I'll discuss here, but I wanted to give the most detail to The Koobas. Find the reissue or CD of this if like me you simply can't afford an original or find one for a more reasonable offer- and to think that back in 1996 when I was a green 20 year old I was the one responsible at a record show for a funny English character/dealer getting 300 pounds for it then! Seems like nothing now! But this album seems like something that might be worth all the money it goes for...
                          And Now Onto Bulldog Breed!
     Bulldog Breed were a band who came out of The Flies, Please, and The Gun who were already more underground acts than many were during their time. Before Asgard guitarist/principal writer Rod Harrison already had a vision of the British Empire rotting and crumbling away into nothing. Together with drummer extraordinaire Louie Farrell from underground heavy psych masterpiece group Gun and ex Flies/Please members Robin Hunt (Lead vocals, flute, guitar, keyboards) and Bernie Jinks (Bass guitar, vocals) they made an album similar to The Koobas if they got really angry on a second release. There is so much venom here on this record that it's almost scary. The toytown poppsych numbers which hearken back to the whimsy of 1967 are a refreshment, a little bit of a cleanser for the violent heavy psychedelic onslaught of the rest of the album. Very much an underground band, Bulldog Breed have the Mod vibe still intact, but complete with overt Satanic themes dark doomy Sabbath style metal is lurking in the grooves. It's faster than Sabbath and Robin Hunt much less subtle in his delivery than wonderful Ozzy, but Ozzy, Iommi, Butler, and Ward would love this. So should you. The reason is easy to point out- despite how frightening in power this album Made In England is it's also a record full of mischievous playfulness and high energy. I can't give a run through of all 14 tracks, but if you want to know why Bulldog Breed is the most underrated British psych masterpiece I can tell you there is not even a mediocre track present on this record out of all 14! Fantastic musicianship, a multitude of different genres being covered tastefully, intelligent pissed off lyrics, and snarling vocals make for a real masterpiece. Sometimes the music is soft, happy, or reflective, but those moments are fleeting. "When The Sun Stands Still," "Sheba's Broomstick Ride," "I Flew," "Paper Man, "Reborn" and the other heavy tracks here are the perfect beginning for British underground rock. There's a lot of psychedelic rock with the brilliance of early hard rock takes on the fall of the Empire, the follies of people who try to think their humdrum lives mean something, and Satanist lyrics all creating a Devilish brew of Hammer Horror fun! Bulldog Breed used to be ignored. It wasn't mentioned in the same breath with other conceptual and semi conceptual records it actually blows out of the water or any of the highest of psych records, but when word got out the price shot up really high. What pisses me off is that nobody ever talks about how this is essentially Asgard before Asgard and T2 before T2 or even a mention of the Gun connection. Personally, Asgard and Gun are top favourites with me, but I'd rate this even higher than T2! Wow! There is such an English vibe here even as they sing about it all going to rot. There's a resilience. They aren't gonna go down without a dirty and mean fight. Bulldog Breed clearly are a Take-On-The-World group and that irreverence shows here in a big way. Every track will try something a little different, a little offbeat, and that makes for a lot of fun. If you don't know your English history you'll learn something about England here. It's great, all of it. It's a shame nobody gave this band the push they deserved because had they Bulldog Breed could have been even bigger than Black Sabbath. Bold words, but listen to the record and you'll know what I mean.
                Rust Arrived Today And Red Notes Of Decay Were Played Quite Loudly.
   Rust's one foray into vinyl Come With Me is the one of these 3 that's still the most underrated and I can't figure out why. Nothing they'd go on to do after this album would equal it both as later members of the excellent for their first album Freedom or as the great but a bit hard to take in large doses Creepy John Thomas. Vocalist/guitarist "Creepy" John Thomas came from Australia and met up with Walt Monaghan (Vocalist, bass) and drummer Brian Hillman in Germany presumably. They were living in Germany when they recorded Come With Me as Rust Underground in 1968-1969 on the budget HorZu label. This record is every bit as good as The Koobas and every bit as good as Bulldog Breed. It can be considered a cross between both, but with more of the anger and disillusionment of Bulldog Breed than the whimsical side of the The Koobas. Johnny Thomas comes from a blues rock background and his voice and guitar reflect that. He has a strong kind of Lou Reed/Mick Jagger thing when he sings and his rockin' guitar is an important factor in Rust's sound. Monaghan and Hillman are the more psychedelic influenced in the group and instead of a mess it all falls together brilliantly with not a weak track in the lot here. "You Thought You Had It Made" was probably called "Fuck You" and they had to change the title- it certainly is a nasty, angry note to begin a record on about a falling out with a particularly annoying ex girlfriend. Thomas sounds downright vulgar and in the process puts both the Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones to shame. Imagine a more psychedelic Stones or an across the pond Lou Reed prototype glam/heavy sleazy blooze rock and you'll get a good idea. The rest of the album is very different- just as heavy, but also much less blues oriented. The lyrics become political or else very personal. Revolution is suggested as the only way to make the world a better place. Songs like "Please Return," the title track "Rust," and "Doesn't Add Up To Me" are whole lyrics of unrest and uneasiness. The rest of the album follows that same kind of wasted and depressed yet very exciting path. I really would say that with the great very Germanic production which includes loads of effects, the excellent musicianship, and absolutely top notch songs this album should go for 1,000 pounds. It has the sounds of a monster and it is a monster, but try finding an original copy and it will be hard, but won't cost you Koobas type money. Rust are a band who can adapt their heavy approach to great hooks and melodies with no problem whilst they also are a band where you have to listen to all the lyrics to all the songs because they have a whole lot to say.
    Was England really this bad off? It seems it was, but people wouldn't know how much worse things would get till the 1970s when every day and every night soldiers were getting killed and people were getting bombed by the IRA. An inept government would not make things any better and by the time musicians tried to catch up with what Rust are saying in the Punk/Thatcher era the whole thing had lost any sense of fun that was there. It all was a cash in and you'd do better to look into the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal than any Sex Pistols crap. I never got "Punk Rock." My take on it is just the same as Ray Davis in the CD bonus track on Sleepwalker "Prince Of The Punks" or any number of Ray/Dave Davis punk era tracks taking the piss out of it as sensationalistic talentless garbage. Rust are more dangerous that any garage punk 60s bullshit or late 1970s early to mid 80s punk rubbish and it is probably just that dangerous, violent, spitting-in-the-face-of-society attitude which made them so short lived. They were too ahead of their time. There's some ugliness on this record, but it's a good kind of ugliness that I think I like more than the affectation of Ugly put on by The Stones. This record is one where you know there won't be a followup because everything there is is thrown into the album leading you to not even speculate about a second release. Rust's time with us on record didn't last long, but what we got out of it is very impressive and I'd rate this as one of the best records ever made for heavy psych or Anglo/Germanic rock in general.
    All three of these The Koobas, Bulldog Breed, and Rust are saying the same thing, but they also all say in the music that you have to keep your faith up and keep fighting for your beliefs and your own personal vision. I'd recommend all 3 as the 3 best heavy psych records of the 60s and if you give them a listen you'll see why. Keep on rocking and keep on believing in music and your passions. That's what these 3 say and I still think England even if it may be flawed is something pretty special.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Thanks to Bulldog Breed's "Top O' The Pops Cock !?!?" for helping inspire the title.
Whether the fans want to admit it or not. Whether THEY want to admit it or not. Paul Revere And The Raiders, the supposed guardians against the British Invasion would never have existed without the British Merseybeat/Beat boom and no good American pop in the 60s would have been at all possible without bands like The Zombies, The Who, The Beatles, The Move, The Kinks, and we had one band who shot it right back to the British and they answered with more great music for us- the brilliant group The Left Banke. British pop is the best. The Left Banke are the best and so are the other very British influenced bands who came out of the States in the 1960s at a time when love was in the air and anything seemed possible. Maybe everything WAS possible.
Pop has often been a dirty word to certain narrow minded people with their head up their arse, but you always know who the real music collectors and fans and friends are because they are the ones who are open to anything. Great British pop like The Magic Lanterns (The Shame Shame album on Atlantic is amazing), Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mich And Tick's best material, The Move, The Koobas, Apple, The Idle Race, Grapefruit, (who it must be said along with The Move and Koobas were venturing far into psychedelia and then became a great hard rock/power pop band on a shamefully underrated 2nd album Deep Water),  The Creation, The Smoke (whose album I really wish I'd kept), Cartoone (From Glasgow Aye), The Casuals ("Jesamine" mmmm what a tasty piece of Baroque beauty and many other gems) has always been held in outright contempt by Americans who can't get over the fact that NOTHING WOULD HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT GREAT BRITAIN. They say the music is fey, too "English" whatever that means, or some other stupid excuse or just that since pop can be played top volume in the car or radio it is too commercial. The most bollocks I've heard was from one unnamed record dealer or two who called it "Too clean" and "Too perfect." What, should music look like a pile of rubbish inside a barn with GARAGE PUNK spray painted in all caps on it? I know it sounds like I'm ranting here and taking a lot of liberties so let's end the rant. The point is that through their own influences and the influences brought over from the best American geniuses like Brian Wilson and Phil Spector (a maniac, but he created the Wall Of Sound and we should love his productions) the British perfected pop. They would be the bright spotlight in the charts in the early 70s when American bands who were pop really were all the insults people throw at that term when they stormed them. Of course, the 1960s set all of those bands up as they cut their teeth on the club circuit playing Mod pop/psych, but we can't forget them. At a time when all in the American charts was gloom and depression from the Yanks we had Vanity Fare, White Plains, The Fortunes (of "You've Got Your Troubles" 1965 beat era fame), The Marmalade (shed a few tears whilst hearing "Reflections Of My Life"), and The Sweet as the only really great talent that also translated into hit singles. And what of David Bowie? Don't forget him. Don't forget that glam rock gave us some great crossover hits and soon American bands were forming to come out in the middle of the 70s with a shot of excitement brought on by the UK bands. Some of the worst hacks were English, in fact the worst of them all was Rupert Holmes who took a talented group of guys from Wilkes Barre P.A called The Buoys and made them into a one-off hit about disgusting cannibalism in "Timothy," but these hacks were just copying the Americans. In the 1960s there was exciting music from everywhere and the competition was fierce, but the bands were young then and they could handle it. If you didn't make the charts, but you made an album that could be filed under "Pop" full of great melodies you still won the fight.
Let's skip ahead to 1970. British pop and British rock are very old-world. They are influenced by the rich history both musical and martial of their country and soon this kind of ultra super refined, tight, disciplined, and straight forward moving sound was causing Americans to hate all things UK Pop/rock while they swore by bands as dire as Bloodrock or The Stooges just because they sounded "American." I know that type. They are the same type who grew up to be Tea Party mutations and George W. Bush supporters. The wise Americans all either went underground or decided they'd be better off writing, producing, and recording their own perfect pop like Carole King, early Todd Rundgren, and Emitt Rhodes. The singer songwriter movement began. A lot of it was pretty foul, but you could always spot a winner in the crowd because they'd be the ones who brightened our country up with big hits. Daryl Hall and John Oates may get slammed by people who think they are too "clean" or too "soul,"  but they gave us over a decade's worth of excellent hits perfectly crafted, beautifully sung, sympathetically arranged. Songs like "She's Gone" will live forever, but "She's Gone" probably wouldn't have made it without Carole King. It is Ms. King who took a look around the world and took British smoothness and mixed it with a good dose of gospel and R&B that we have to thank for that one bright spot that ignited the charts in 1972 America- Tapestry. How, though, we would survive in a world where only a self-made solo artist who'd worked on Tin Pan Alley could be a bright spot is that we wouldn't survive. War was on- and it wasn't just in Vietnam or for England Northern Ireland. A war happened in the world of music- a war between "Pop" and "Underground." Badfinger came over from England/Wales with backing from The Beatles and hammered us. They were the first band to make the problem visible. While they followed by others I've mentioned already were the groups who made great chart singles and great pop albums America only had a few solo artists and a duo. Daryl and John slaved over their music before making it. They began terribly and knew they had to improve. With Abandoned Luncheonette they achieved the goal of a perfect album, but we couldn't possibly survive in the charts with only 5 albums I can think of as classics with hits (Todd Rundgren: Runt- The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren. Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything. Emitt Rhodes S/T on Dunhill. Carole King: Tapestry. Daryl Hall and John Oates: Abandoned Luncheonette) compared to the storming by the British. Soon discontentment became the name of the game come 1971. American bands started to model themselves after British bands and forsook chart success for progressivism and hard rock. England's mighty hold over commercial music would never die. Between 1970 and 1975 hardly any American bands who made great music were making chart success. Things had gotten as grim as they were before The British Invasion so it's not a surprise there was a 2nd British Invasion. Badfinger, the tragic heroes who lost the lives of both main songwriters to suicide, spearheaded it followed by Queen, Pilot, The Sweet, Mott The Hoople, and out pop acts Vanity Fare, White Plains, The Marmalade, 10cc. In this period of time 1970 to 1976 the wake up call wasn't felt until a certain band called Boston decided that they could combine the artistic talents of a progressive band like Yes or Argent with loud guitars and pop melodies of their own. Boston broke through. It was wonderful and still is. Then AOR radio and AOR/Pomp rock came to enter the charts and finally it seemed we had some great British influenced bands saving the musical future of this country. It would only lead to the obvious. We could deliver some great AOR/Pomp rock, but it was so influenced both by Hall/Oates and the British that soon they would be producing the better bands. I haven't even mentioned The Shocking Blue or Abba, but they figure into this too and with all caps on QUALITY MUSIC. What happened to the days of great hits from American bands in the 1960s? We got too damned patriotic. We also got too paranoid. Xenophobic rock critics ruined everything and as any intelligent person will know bigotry of any kind should not be tolerated. That's right- bigotry played a big role in what was going to send America down the tubes into oblivion. Namely the amount of black music and black influenced music that was good and in the charts led to an outbreak of openly racist bands and solo acts who were so white you could just smell the stale scent of used up chalk and spray paint I mentioned before. For instance one of the biggest hits of the mid 1970s was "Play That Funky Music White Boy" by Donny Iris/Wild Cherry and Hall and Oates were dubbed by idiots "Blue Eyed Soul." Like John Oates who said that's a racist term he is right. That's truth. Soul is a state of mind, and there is no reason why Hall/Oates or Toto couldn't just be dubbed Pop, Power Pop, or AOR with soulful influences. This kind of childish teasing and hating was going on in the 1970s and I hate it. I wasn't born yet or I was a babe for most of that time, but I love music and I hate any kind of prejudice. Narrow-mindedness is a disease. If you're so white you don't have a shadow and you're so American you are wearing a badge that says in code "I HATE ALL FOREIGNERS" then you are sick in the head and don't have a heart. This disease would lead to grunge. It would lead to hate rock. It spells out the unrest that was going on in the 1970s and back into the 1960s with race riots happening all the time. Soon it would be 2001. You couldn't be blamed if you left the country or burned the flag- and that is a tragedy. That is the tragedy of America, but this is a music blog so no more about that except on the musical side of the fence. American bands started to go back and listen to the music of the 1960s and British bands. Soon we'd have some more promising sounding bands around, but chart success would prove elusive like nothing had changed. Let's not forget that The Zombies back in the 1960s made their masterstroke Oddesey And Oracle as a last effort right before throwing the towel in. That is one of the best pop albums ever made- a pure, majestic, emotional, warm, moving record of beautiful perfect pop. Badfinger toughened pop up. They released Straight Up after the equally brilliant No Dice consolidating success in the charts yet ending in the horribly tragic deaths by hanging of Pete Ham (1975) and Tom Evans (in the early/mid 80s sometime). However, the music of Badfinger lives on and really the more I think about it their strong solid mix of pop and rock would lead to some good crossover successes here. People have a thing about soft and laid back music when it gets commercial. If it's Bread whose first album is a Must Have, The Raspberries, or some of the better hits by The Eagles they don't like/hate it and if it's Vanity Fare or The Magic Lanterns they Despise it. Pretty sad. Pretty miserable. I don't want this blog to come off as a complete slamming of America or Americans as I do not feel that way at all, but the bad people in the population are the ones who are spinning the wheels of commercial success and big business. While thousands of young, innocent, worthy soldiers die in a pointless war nobody writes a good protest song with hit appeal like Earth Opera did back in the 1960s or Mr. Brilliant Bob Dylan did- they just put up an American flag and a yellow ribbon on their car. Do they really care about those boys? NO. In England things are just as bad politically/socially, but musically in a disturbing way most bands seem to either aim only at the Americans or just to not exist. So they too are now like the whole rest of the Western World dependent on the great classic Pop of yesteryear. Pop shouldn't be a dirty word. Neither should Love. Pop is all about love and British pop is the richest in romance there is in the whole world. The themes of young people falling in love written about as far back as The Beatles or later on by the masterful half English (Graham Russell- writer/vocalist) half Aussie (Russell Hitchcock vocalist extraordinary) Air Supply will live forever. In the 1990s there were some great songs by British bands Ten from Mainland England and Dare from Wales and now the most romantic band around is a band of amazing abilities called Elbow- guess where they are from? England. In England love is coming out. In America kids are beginning to listen to what is now called Classic Rock when it is really the cream of pop/rock. I believe in music as a healing power. British Pop is the greatest source of healing there ever will be. You should take a good healthy dose of strong, solid, unrefined British pop at least twice every day. To end this entry- remember that you are not the only one out there and that love is the thing, giving is the thing to do. Turn somebody on to good vibes not apathy. No matter what they call it/us good music and good people may be outnumbered, but we put up a really solid fight nonetheless.