A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Best Of... The Lemon Pipers

The Lemon Pipers were famous for their bubblegum no. 1 smash Green Tambourine in 1968.  I'd always presumed they were a fake band made of studio musicians like so many of their bubbly contemporaries, but it turns out they were a genuine group, with enough of a following to play the Fillmore West at the height of the San Francisco scene.  Once signed to Buddah Records however, they were given songs from outside writers to record, firmly aimed at the younger end of the pop-buying market.  Nevertheless, their albums contained some of their own heavier, spaced-out material.  This compilation includes both, with pre-teeny-bop stuff at the beginning and druggy cosmic journeying at the end.  Both are well worth listening to, although the tracks aimed at kids are arguably trippier.
   Green Tambourine is pop perfection, and while follow-up Rice is Nice is naff, Jelly Jungle (of Orange Marmalade) sounds like a fun place to visit.  Rainbow Tree, meanwhile, is gorgeous, with the mind-bending lyric telling us 'The time and place is only something your mind creates'.  Of the band-generated material, Catch Me Falling is great country-rock in a Byrds vein, while the epic Dead End Street/Half Light sounds like Country Joe and the Fish.

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Flame - The Flame

The Flame were a South African band located to London, who were talent-spotted by lesser-spotted Beach Boy Al Jardine, and eventually incorporated into the Beach Boys themselves, with members Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin adding a rootsier sound to some of their early-seventies albums.  Before this, however, is this album produced by Beach Boy Carl Wilson for their own Brother label in 1970.  It's very much a Beatles-esque affair, with Abbey Road-era McCartney-isms prevalent throughout.  Even the outdoorsy Lady is more 'Paul on his farm with a sheep' fabrication than any attempt at Band-like authenticity. Essentially early power-pop, particularly interesting for the way their attitude to multi-section guitar-led instrumental breaks actually seems to prefigure Big Star, in particular the Chris Bell side of the Bell/Chilton partnership, in a way the Beatles don't quite do.  Was this album spinning on Bell's turntable in Memphis as he laid the groundwork for that seminal band?  Anyway, it's not a classic or anything, but it's very enjoyable if you like that sort of thing.

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Raconteur - Jeff Wayne

Do you like showbiz anecdotes?  Do you like anecdotes about watching Sheena Easton taking her clothes off without her knowing?  Then Jeff Wayne (not the War of the Worlds guy) is the man for you!  Comedian Wayne presents his own personal collection of reminiscences (some not his own) from the world of showbiz.  Be amazed by Pavarotti singing Happy Birthday!  Be stunned by Alan Ladd driving a very small car!  Be bored by Debbie Reynolds!  All this and more awaits you on 'Raconteur - Showbiz Stories From the Soul'.*

*Soul may be borrowed from a friend or passing acquaintance.

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Singles Collection - Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee is an artist I previously had very little interest in indeed.  I perceived him as very much a second division pop 'n' roller, the 1950s' pre-emptive answer to Harry Stiles.  And in a way he was.  But this collection of his As and Bs from the late '50s to the early '70s shows that he was so much more.
  Starting off with a quality home-brewed rock 'n' roll number 'Suzie Baby', a favourite of Bob Dylan, you then get the songs you know - 'Rubber Ball', 'Take Good Care of My Baby', 'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes'.  There is a weird emotional S&M streak running through this period, with Bobby seriously getting off on the idea of being cheated on and cheating in return whilst being watched in 'The Night...' as well as a song simply called 'Punish Her'.  Bobby then has the good fortune to hook up with Burt Bacharach for a few numbers, just as the Burtster's star is about to rise, probably out of his price range.  The best of these is 'Anonymous Phone Call,' with a great meander of a melody tied to a beautifully precise Hal David lyric.
   The Beatles rendered Bobby yesterday's news, but he kept on going, bothering the lower reaches of the charts with shameless exercises in bandwagon-jumping.  Beatlesesque whoos turn up for a couple of tracks, while by the mid-'60s Bobby is laying down a credible cover of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds track 'Here Today' along with the brooding psych of 'I May Be Gone'.  The '70s bring an embracing of country rock in a similar vein to that of his contemporary Ricky Nelson.  A lot of this, such as 'No Obligations' is well worth listening to, although fake hippy anthem 'Signs' is unintentionally hilarious as Bobby rages against pretty much any type of sign he can find.
   Three CDs of Bobby is more than most sane people would want, but the excess is necessary in order to present Vee's career for what it was.  A mirror of the pop mainstream, with little innovation, but with many developments seized on and emulated, with honesty, charm and some very decent songs along the way.  Bobby Vee is ok with me.

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Love Is... - Priscilla Paris

Priscilla Paris was a member of Phil Spector-produced girl group The Paris Sisters.  This, from 1978, is an entirely self-penned effort, and well worth a listen.  The opening track, 'Down By the River', is a moody slow-burner worthy of Lee Hazlewood's songs for Nancy Sinatra, featuring some great '70s synth atmospherics.  The closing track dwells on the blissful unawareness of a dog that its owners' relationship has ended.  In between are songs about love present and gone, and encroaching middle-age.  Very easy on the ear, but like the best easy, there are real, hard emotions bobbing about in the eiderdown.

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