Album Chart of 1965

<1964 1966>

  • This chart features albums released in 1965 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 57) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1965 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1965-a-bob-dylan.jpg

ELECTRIC DYLAN STILL BOSS HOSS

Despite some rumblings of discontent from certain quarters within the Folk fraternity, Bob Dylan’s shift to electric elevated his work to yet a new level of greatness. As if wary of a new puritan revolt, “Bringing It All Back Home” (March) started the process gently with an electric / acoustic compromise, before “Highway 61 Revisited” (August) maxed out. Quite frankly, anyone who didn’t dig “Like A Rolling Stone” must have been tasteless beyond comprehension.

Once again, the British invasion is held at arm’s length, as the U.S. takes my Top 5, and with beautiful diversity too, as the Proto-Punk assault of The Sonics, the melodramatic Pop of The Shangri-Las and the spine-tingling Soul of Otis Redding accompanies the electric one in the higher echelons.

From England, The Rolling Stones were on their A-game and The Who delivered as dynamic a debut as anyone from the green and pleasant land to date.

The Byrds were notable debutants and Johnny Cash delivered the best album of his career - and a double at that.

Them put Northern Irleland on the map with an angry debut, and two fine Scots by the names of Bert Jansch and Donovan led the way in the world of acoustic folk music. Keeping traditional fires burning were The Dubliners, now firmly established as the pride of the Emerald Isle.

Bob Marley appears for the first time, although the debut set from The Wailers fails to catch a fire, and sits outside of the Top 30.

A quick look at the albums which find themselves outside of my Top 30 demonstrates the ever-increasing strength in depth of the album market in 1965…

The Jukebox Rebel
28-Dec-2015

revised 06-Mar-2016

TJR says:

9.53 “An elite masterpiece”

Much to the chagrin of the eclectically challenged, the decade’s lead hipster deepened his experimental hybrid of folk roots with electrified blues rock, all twisted up in lyrical Dylanility. The songs were flavoured by Mike Bloomfield’s blues guitar, and Al Kooper’s organ riffs. With a doff of the cap to his spiritual ancestors, the album title alluded to the famous route which passed near the birthplaces and homes of influential musicians such as Muddy Waters, Son House, Elvis Presley, and Charley Patton. The “empress of the blues”, Bessie Smith, died after sustaining serious injuries in an automobile accident on it. And it is, of course, the stuff of legend that bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have “sold his soul to the devil” at the highway’s crossroads with Route 49! Bob had to fight hard to get the title that he wanted to go with the content, he said: “Nobody understood it. I had to go up the fucking ladder until finally the word came down and said: ‘Let him call it what he wants to call it’.” How ridiculous is that? Fighting folk fans, fighting record companies, deemed to be a fighter of everyone’s cause; it’s little wonder he was fired up for this one. The strength in depth with these 9 classic pieces is verging on inhuman. Such passion, such spirit, such vitality. It’s got a triple wow rating from start to finish. Opening track, “Like A Rolling Stone”, bristles with an intensity which is verging on the insane; when Bob sneers “How does it FEEL?” you get a sense that this is a guy on the edge. In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. He told journalist Nat Hentoff: “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained.” The singer added: “It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.” As a consequence of his dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote 20 pages of verse he later described as a “long piece of vomit”. He reduced this to a song with four verses and a chorus—”Like a Rolling Stone”. He told Hentoff that writing and recording the song washed away his dissatisfaction, and restored his enthusiasm for creating music. As always, you can take Bob’s songs in many different ways – it seems to me he himself is the one with “no direction home”. As impossible as it seems, “Tombstone Blues” manages to maintain the high and, with it, the sense that we are witnessing an epic body of work unfold. It’s a rockabilly rumbler that revels in the latest chapter of Dylan’s surrealistic ramblings; amongst the verbal onslaught you can pick up on a hundred angles – “the sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken”. What’s going on in there? Closer inspection reveals that the line is delivered in mock fashion from a taunting “commander in chief”. In fact, the deeper you dig the more you find there are more angles than a higher Maths paper. Is this anti-Vietnam? Definitely maybe. Side one closes with “Ballad Of A Thin Man”, and the king of the nasty song is in glorious form as he rips into journalists and their infuriating inability to understand both the singer and his work. The song smokes and smoulders with Dylan’s piano and Al Kooper’s “spooky organ riffs”. Mr. Jones could well be a London journalist – or he could represent the hapless bourgeois at large. Dylan mocks on behalf of an entire counterculture movement: “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?” I’m not quite sure I know what is happening half the time on Bob Dylan records. But I know I love them. And I know I ain’t no Mr. Jones. And I know that Bob Dylan has, for the fourth time in a row, created the greatest album of the year. In fact, as at 1965, “Highway 61 Revisited” is the greatest album the world has ever seen…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Apr-2006


TJR says:

9.13 “A masterpiece”

Whilst mere Rock n Rollers were getting their kicks on route 66, these reckless thrill seekers from Tacoma, Washington were extoling the virtues of necking straight Strychnine. Their alternative approach is apparent at every turn on this blinding debut set, released on their mates’ label, Etiquette Records, run by Kent Morrill and Buck Ormsby of The Wailers. After 3 years of self-releases, The Sonics were the first non-Wailers band on the label; Kent and Buck knew they had found worthy stablemates. First fruits were “The Witch”, a local smash in the fall of ’64, and “Psycho” which electrified the whole of the North West upon its release early in ’65. From thereon, the question of an LP being a viable production was a no-brainer. As an excited Buck later recalled: “We didn’t care if it bled. I wanted to hear sweat dropping on the tape”. The 5-piece, seemingly hell bent on their mission to annihilate Rock n Roll, were: Gerry Roslie (organ, piano, lead vocals); Andy Parypa (bass guitar); Larry Parypa (lead guitar, vocals); Rob Lind (saxophone, vocals, harmonica) and Bob Bennett (drums). The LP was produced at Audio Recording in Seattle, Washington, with famed Pacific Northwest recording engineer Kearney Barton. People often remark on how fantastic the drums sound on this record, and it’s very true; the fact that it was recorded on a two-track tape recorder, with only one microphone to pick up the entire drum kit makes a mockery of studios ten times the price which often end up sounding twice as dull. Speaking to the Seattle Times some 20 years later, the boys revealed some more of their trade secrets; Andy Parypa: “If our records sound distorted, it’s because they are. My brother was always fooling around with the amps. They were always overdriven. Or he was disconnecting the speakers and poking a hole in them with an ice-pick. That’s how we ended up sounding like a train wreck”. Larry Parypa: “We were nasty. Everything you’ve heard people say about us is true”. Andy Parypa: “I mean the Sonics were savage!” Gerry Roslie: “When we played I would scream! Well, I would scream my brains out trying to be as loud and strong as I could.” In truth, the electrifying dynamism from the whole group was backed up by no little ability and a cracking set of songs, including four of their own, each of the all-time classic variety; “The Witch” (9.5), “Boss Hoss” (9.7); Psycho (10) and “Strychnine” (9.7). Best of the covers are “Do You Love Me” (The Contours, 1962) – always an edgier Motown number, but pushed to its outer limits here – and “Have Love Will Travel” (Richard Berry and The Pharaohs, 1959) which finds these alpha males strutting like peacocks. It’s their pop concession. There’s been Punks in music ever since the jass and blues explosion of the 20s, but this lot were the leading lights of the first Punk Rock order. ‘Til now, The Wailers and The Kingsmen, although dynamic in patches, could only dream of delivering a full-length sonic statement as potent as this one. “Here Comes The Sonics” was truly the first LP that set the benchmark for Punk Rock; from beginning to end this was an adrenalin-fuelled barrage of hard and fast, crunched-up, scuzzed-out psycho-bastard Rock n Roll. Resistance is futile – turn it up!

The Jukebox Rebel
31-Dec-2007


TJR says:

8.12 “Excellent”

To all intents and purposes, “Leader Of The Pack”, the preceding Shangri-Las debut album from February ’65, was a 1964 production. “Shangri-Las 65”, first issued in September, therefore made the clear statement – this was the new sound of a group making progress. Their brand of teen melodrama was becoming more angst-laden and George Morton’s productions were in tandem, capturing the increasing moodiness of the songs perfectly. Included were all six sides of the latest 3 singles; “Out In The Streets” (March), “Give Us Your Blessings” (May) and “Right Now And Not Later” (August), all of which had carried on their momentum, albeit without the stunning sales heights of the mega-hits of the preceding year. Sophistication was the key to these performances – they were far too good to be number one hits. The glorious “Right Now” opens up side 1 – it’s extremely well driven and is packed full of Motown goodness, with excellent vocals, a honking sax, swirling organs and a great bassline. If your hips don’t sway to this then, basically, you’re a dead person. It’s happening right now, later is too late is as positive as the album gets, message wise. “Never Again” follows in with a huge “wall of sound” – only two tracks in and, already, we’ve had legitimate and credible productions to rival Motown and Phil Spector. The high quality is maintained on “Give Us Your Blessing”, which is more of a trademark Shangri-Las number and packed full of drama; young teenagers in love threaten to runaway unless they can be married. It’s set to a thunderous backdrop, with chiming bells and church keys and production tricks rooted in the successes of “Remember” and “Leader”: “Well as they drove off they were crying, and nobody knows for sure that, that's why they didn't see the sign, that road detour. The next day they found them, Mary and Jimmy were dead, and as their folks knelt beside them in the rain they couldn't help but hear the last words that Mary had said, Give us your blessing, please don't make us run away, give us your blessing say you'll be there on our wedding day.” Ooft. It’s a death-rock classic of the highest order. What entertainment! The word-jazz oddity that is “Sophisticated Boom Boom” was written by George Morton himself; it’s a quirky little number that serves to break up the album well. Surely, every listener is hooked by this stage; you daren’t miss a moment as this LP continues to unravel. This trick of keeping us on our toes continues with the cool cover of The Ikettes “I’m Blue” – it’s Mary Ann who steps up to the mike for a rare change of lead vocalist. (As a side note was Marlena Shaw listening in for her “ging-gi-gi-gi-gi-ging-gisms”?) Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich’s doop-pop sensibilities are to the fore on “Heaven Only Knows” which closes side 1. Drawing breath for a moment, it’s been a remarkable mix-tape so far – so many different stylizations and so much drama – and we’re only halfway. In all, Jeff & Ellie’s partnership was responsible for 5 of the 12. Side 2 opens with 3 of theirs. In a parallel universe, “Train From Kansas City” would be the latest single from Jeff Barry and George Morton, ace producers extraordinaire of 200 Motown hits 1964-1969. It’s got the lot; a great beat, killer melody lines, awesome girl harmonies, and tricks and licks galore. Chugga-chugga-choo-choo! The pain of growing apart from someone really close is reflected soulfully on “Out In The Streets”. It’s a massive performance from everyone; Mary’s reading is perfection and production wise, the solemn rhythm and Jeff Barry’s strings make for a thing of sheer beauty – this is the crowning glory of the LP. “The Dum Dum Ditty” recalls the insanely happy sugar-rush of the Crystals, as the girls sing in unison “he’s a rebel without a cause, he doesn’t do what everyone else does“ Influences are laid bare on that and on the following “You Cheated, You Lied”, where the girls delve back in to the Rock n Roll ballad archives for a go at the Slades hit of 1958. They’re superb at the doo-wop style and it’s decided that such a ballad will be the best way to finish the set, although the genre gets a ’65 reinvention, devoid of actual doo-wop sparkle and imbued instead with something altogether darker and moodier. “The Boy” sums up what the Shangri-Las were all about – infatuation and teenage romance, the most serious, most important thing in the whole wide world. Jimmy and Mary 4ever x.

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Mar-2011


TJR says:

8.05 “Excellent”

The first of two Bob Dylan albums in 1965, and the prolific songwriter is restless for something new, something different. He finds it too. Pop, Rock, Blues and Folk are all explored, dueted or multi-intertwined in an ambitious quest to tread new paths. Side One opts for a full band approach whilst Side Two continues to showcase the solo songwriter (albeit with some countermelody electric guitar from Bruce Langhorne). This deliberate progression was further underlined with a change of image. Gone were the scruffy jeans and work shirts, replaced by a Carnaby Street wardrobe, sunglasses day or night, and pointy “Beatle boots”. His lyrics continued their trend towards the abstract and personal. The more mysterious Bob either pulled you in closer or alienated you further – I wasn’t there man, but I’d sure have been in the former category without question. This guy was creating and always true to himself – take it or leave it that’s your problem. The album opens up in spectacular fashion with the lead single “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, a whirlwind of verbal soundbites which suggest counterculture’s where it’s at. Are you straight or are you square? Dylan said: “It’s from Chuck Berry, a bit of ’Too Much Monkey Business’ and some of the scat songs of the ’40s.” It was all of that and something new to boot. On the album highlight, “On The Road Again”, Bob digs back in time as he strives for reinvention, taking Memphis Jug Band’s “On The Road” and driving it home with a pop rock beat and some proper whack lyrics which are just a joy to digest: “Well I wake up in the morning there’s frogs in my socks, Your mama, she’s a-hidin’ inside the icebox, your daddy walks in wearin’ Napoleon Bonaparte mask”. What the hell’s he going on about? Apparently, the theme is “resistance to society is enacted through self-exile”. I don’t care that I don’t always get it! Side One finishes with “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”, Bob the loon is in full flow on this highly satirical and highly surrealistic story where the narrator “discovers” the modern day United States. It’s a genuine treat to be inside this crazy head. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Bob Dylan rocks man…

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Apr-2007


TJR says:

8.03 “Excellent”

Following on from “The Great Otis Redding Sings Ballads” in March, came “Otis Blue” in September. Team Otis were just going from strength to strength at this time and this was the best serving yet; both in my eyes and in the commercial stakes. The hottest action all comes in the first half of the set. The album leads off with two of Otis’s own compositions, both of which make up the album’s lead single, released just a month before the LP. “Ole Man Trouble” (the current b-side) makes for a great starter – as ever, the whole group are sharp and Otis vocals are amazingly nuanced and expressive. The horns and organ are a treat. The A-side, “Respect” (another penned by Otis), proceeds to tear the place up with its foot-stomping brilliance; this must have been a scorcher on the dance floors. Having lost his buddy, Sam Cooke, in distressing circumstances in December ’64, “Otis Blue” pays tribute by title and by the inclusion of 3 of Sam’s songs, including a thoroughly magnificent reading of “A Change Is Gonna Come”. The fight for equal rights and social justice goes on via this soul brother. Just when you think Side 1 can’t possibly get much better, along comes another all-time classic written, once again, by the main man. “I’ve Been Loving You For Too Long” had given him his biggest single success to date, peaking at #21 in the Billboard 100 in the early summertime.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2007


TJR says:

8.03 “Excellent”

As any discographer will tell you, discographies for the English beat groups were a total nightmare in the mid-60s; American record executives were licensed to do their own thing and this resulted in all sorts of Trans-Atlantic messiness. “Out Of Our Heads”, as envisaged by the Americans, arrived in July ’65 – a whole two months ahead of the UK equivalent, with only 6 songs common to each. I take the worldly view, and assign the “A-list” precedence on a first come, first served basis. Which is good news for the Stones in my chart of ’65 – the American release was the strongest for me, tending more towards their lazier / bluesier inclinations. With the exception of two weak covers in the middle – “Good Times” (they could surely have made a better tribute for the late Sam?) and “I’m Alright” (a Bo Diddley cover, but a bit of cheap insert from a previous live EP) – this is a mighty record. The LP has 6 originals and 6 covers. Of the originals, “The Last Time”, “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” and “Play With Fire” all point to a new, inventive direction for the group; they are maturing as songwriters before your eyes. For me personally, I’m still loving them best in their guise as blues ambassadors for the new teenage revolution. On this LP, two of the greatest cuts in the entire Stones catalogue were “hot off the press”. In May, they had returned to the Chess Studios in Chicago (following visits in June and November of last year) and laid down “That's How Strong My Love Is” and “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”. Their excellent taste had led them to immortalize O.V. Wright’s ’64 ballad – their raucous reading is virtually the equal of Otis Redding’s interpretation, but in a unique way that only these brash young Englishmen could pull-off. “Under Assistant” (a group composition) was directly inspired by George Sherlock, a promotions man at Decca Records who was assigned to travel with the Stones when they were on the West Coast. He deserves a slice of the royalty action for that abuse! What a stunning track it is though; the Stones absolutely nailed down one of the strongest blues rock beats you could ever hope to hear. Complete perfection. The harmonica action is again to the fore on another new group composition, “The Spider and the Fly”. The way they spun their own version of the blues was fantastic in this era, and this is another shining example. A Jagger/Richards composition, it’s essentially a Jimmy Reed slow-drag, but with quintessentially English teen-speak of the day; as Jagger himself would later point out this was an interesting juxtaposition. It also helps that the band were smokin’ hot… Producer Andrew Loog Oldham got the last word on the sleeve: “We hope that this album gets you OUT OF your HEADS listening to it, as we got making it.” Does he mean what I think he means? : – O

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Dec-2007


TJR says:

7.83 “Brilliant”

His finest hour. And 4 minutes 50 seconds. Folk and country get all mixed up once again, as Johnny continues his concept album love affair with a sprawling, and very well researched, double album set, chronicling tales of the old American West. And there weren’t no Wiki back in ’65! The cover of Shel Silverstein’s “25 Minutes To Go” is a total stunner. The song is literally “gallows humour”, as it is sung by a man awaiting his own execution by hanging. Each verse consists of two lines, of which the first line is anything from humorous to poignant, and the second line is a minute-by-minute countdown. “Well they’re buildin’ the gallows outside my cell. I got 25 minutes to go. And the whole town’s waitin’ just to hear me yell. I got 24 minutes to go.” It’s the point of view of someone who is experiencing a calamity in “real time” composing and singing as the events unfold, with a fatal conclusion, and it’s thoroughly compelling. Elsewhere, Cash tackles the old traditional “Sam Hall” (Tex Ritter style), an old English folk song about a bitterly unrepentant criminal condemned to death (Roud #369). Prior to the mid-19th century it was called “Jack Hall”, after an infamous English thief, who was hanged in 1707 at Tyburn. The sole single from the album, “Mr. Garfield”, describes the shock of the population after the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881. The set also includes 2 brilliant tracks (“Streets Of Laredo” and “The Blizzard”) which had been covered 4 years ago by Jim Reeves on his “Tall Tales” LP – surely no co-incidence? This is completely brilliant all the way – that a 20 track album can hold such a high rating is testament to its strength in depth…

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.76 “Brilliant”

Looking up at you from the cover of their December ’65 debut release they were: Roger Daltrey (21, flame haired, lead vocals, harmonica); John Entwistle (21, union jack wearer, bass guitar, backing vocals); Keith Moon (19, white-suit wearer, drums, percussion) and Pete Townshend (20, school scarf wearer, guitar, backing vocals). Despite being dismissed as a bit of a “rush job” by the band, I love it. Much like the Kinks debut, it was raw, energetic and pointed the way with a tough new beat. Tellingly, the weakest tracks on the LP were the first two recorded back in May; the James Brown covers “I Don’t Mind” and “Please Please Please”. Although okay, they are cheap derivatives. The vast majority of the album was recorded in the preceding 2 month period and was much more representative of where their strengths lay. They were developing a brand of punky-mod-rock, driven by the lively rhythm section of Keith and John. The beats, riffs and attitude vocals were where it was at for the cooler boys and girls in late ‘65. The combination of attitude and melody is always a winner with me and “The Good’s Gone”, the current b-side, is the first to deliver on both fronts – a cool confidence is evident. “La-La-La-Lies”, the current a-side, follows on and I can’t help but think The Jam were here. The pop-punk action continues straight away with “Much Too Much” – these stylish emphasis riffs were the bedrock for many a great band for many years to come. Session man Nicky Hopkins hammers down some Jerry Lee piano (as he does elsewhere on the album) and it adds to, what was at the time, the strange new sound of the age. It’s way ahead of its time and fully worthy of the all-time classic tag. Speaking of which, “My Generation” proceeds to blow the roof off. “Why don't you all ffff… fade away!” Fade away, yeah right. Fucking wild man! “The Kids Are Alright” opens up side 2 where side 1 left off – with killer riffage and glorious harmonies that the Byrds would be proud of. “It’s Not True” is another excellent highlight on side 2 – it’s almost like a final hurrah for the Chuck Berry rock n roll beat, with another super-cool punky-vocal from Roger. These guys knew where they were coming from – and they also knew where they were going to. This was a new ssss… senation.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Mar-2010


TJR says:

7.70 “Brilliant”

As far as the makers of this glorious debut were concerned, Rock n Roll was now firmly dead. Behold the jingle-jangle revolution. Let’s call it Folk Rock. It was a beautiful sound, baked in Californian sunshine, but delivered by an unsmiling raggle-taggle bunch of scruff-bags. At this time, they had a clear trademark sound, thanks to Roger McGuinn’s commanding jangle on the twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar, Chris Hillman’s melodic bass playing, and the complex harmony work, usually between McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby. Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan become radio friendly when channelled through The Byrds. Usually this would be a very bad sign, but not so in this instance. Six originals (one of which was penned by Jackie DeShannon) and six covers (including an amazing four of Bob Dylan) made for a perfect balance; exciting in the new with the added warmth of the familiar. The mind boggling cover of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” excepted of course…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Feb-2008


TJR says:

7.70 “Brilliant”

During 1964, the Dubliners had become Ireland’s top selling artists, were TV regulars, and were playing to sell-out houses. The association with Transatlantic was helping to spread their fame to America, Australia, and New Zealand. For their second LP, it was decided that another live set would represent them best, and the album was duly recorded on the 4th December 1964 at Cecil Sharp House, the traditional home of British Folk Music. “The Dubliners In Concert” is superior to last years’ debut in many ways; where “The Dubliners” (1964) had been concert-hall conservative (by their boisterous standards), the follow-up was, by the time the end of side 2 came around, just that bit more raucous, that bit more representative of their pub-style, as adept with the foot tappers as the graceful airs. The craic was grand, it was musically rich and diverse, and many definitive versions were laid down of enduring Dubliners classics. Feeding from each other, the audience and the group had a rare auld time. Since the previous LP, the group had lost one player and gained two. Luke Kelly – who couldn’t make up his mind if he wanted in or out – was off adventuring in England (again) at this time. Coming into the line-up were two Dublin natives, the 29 year-old singer / guitarist Bob Lynch, and the 25 year-old fiddle / mandolin / tin whistle player John Sheahan. Bob was already established as a solo artist in the thriving Dublin club circuit of the 1960s. His and John Sheahan's entry into the group seems interlinked as they had previously played together briefly as a duo. With the addition of these two, The Dubliners assumed a new degree of musical virtuosity as John O’Regan noted in his excellent reissue liner notes for Sanctuary: “Sheahan's classical training and his instrumental talents on fiddle, mandolin and tin whistle added a greater musical sophistication. Now he and Barney McKenna could attempt mandolin duets on the slow air “Róisín Dubh” and he and Ciarán Bourke could double on tin whistles to back songs such as “Roddy McCorley”… with their first flush of youthful swagger intact, The Dubliners took no prisoners. This was a swashbuckling live band tossing out fire and brimstone Irish music shot through with heart and authority. They had the musical dexterity and attitude combined in one explosive package.” Vocally, there are 5 from Ronnie Drew, 3 from Ciarán Bourke and 2 from Bob Lynch, with 4 instrumentals allowing John Sheahan and Barney McKenna to shine individually and together. Their “Róisín Dubh” (“Dark Rosaleen”) mandolin duet is beyond magnificent; it’s one of the finest, most spine-tingling pieces in all of traditional folk music. The centuries-old poem tells, allegorically, of the hopes of the native Irish, specifically the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, that the Pope and the King of Spain might come to their aid as Gaelic Ireland was being crushed and anglicised by English forces. The call to arms is well concealed in the poem to avoid “treasonable utterances” for which the penalty was death. Luckily, with no incriminating vocals, Ronnie’s life was not endangered and he was able to marvel at the performance from the safety of back stage. Ronnie’s 5 in the spotlight are: “The Twang Man”, “The Woman From Wexford”, “Easy And Slow” (ridiculously banned by Radio Eireann for being “dirty”), “The Old Orange Flute” (a hoot) and “The Leaving Of Liverpool”, which delivers shed loads of sentimentality and still sounds as hard as nails whilst doing so. That’s the Ronnie Drew magic for you – it cannot be copied by any other. Bob Lynch's earthy vocals fit right in with the Dubliners sound that I love so well. Both of his contributions are superb; he sings “The Kerry Recruit” with all the innocence of a young lad caught up as a pawn of war, and there’s surely no doubt as to which side you’re on as a listener. Showing a more sensitive side, he reads Dominic Behan’s “The Patriot Game” with a captivating authority. I can’t help lament the fact that this will be Bob’s first and last stint as a Dubliner. Ciarán Bourke brings a whole different sense to the group, he has a tremendous flair for singing the auld sangs in the auld style, and his cultured tone lends itself well to “Ar Fa La La Lo”, the Connemara Gaelic love song “Peggy Lettermore” and the show opener “Roddy MacCorley”, a stirring patriotic marching song from Co. Derry. The variety on this LP is truly impressive – and there are no dull moments. The Cecil Sharp crowd were privileged with a special treat that night.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.62 “Brilliant”

The same team who delivered “Pain in my Heart” remained intact for album # 2. The core band of Booker T. Jones (organ), Steve Cropper (guitar, piano), Donald Dunn (bass), and Al Jackson Jr. (drums) were in place along with the superb Memphis Horn section of Wayne Jackson (trumpet), Charles Axton (tenor sax) and Floyd Newman (baritone sax). Otis takes on O.V. Wright’s summer ’64 single “That’s How Strong My Love Is” for the album’s opener – it makes for a classic starter, and immediately the promise of last year’s strong debut LP looks as if it’s going to be fulfilled. I just love Otis doing these heartfelt ballads – and the cultured toughness of his band ensures the effect is never drippy. Strange, therefore, that a local DJ branded him “Mr Pitiful” on account of his soul balladeering. Turning the negative into a positive, Steve Cropper persuaded Otis to respond with a single and “Mr Pitiful”, which closes this LP, was issued in January ’65, backed with a “pitiful” soul ballad called “That’s How Strong My Love Is”. What a 2 sider that was! “Mr Powerful” might have been a better description but, to be fair, it wouldn’t have made for such a great song title! The slow ballads are in the majority on this LP and these provide the very best moments that the set has to offer, with side 2 proving to be the richest. A gorgeously tender reading of Jerry Butler’s 1958 tune “For Your Precious Love” kicks off the flipside and it just goes to show… it’s not necessarily the song, it’s all about the delivery. Otis and his boys take ownership of the title. On “Come to Me” (one of his own) I think to myself He just keeps on belting out these classics with un-nerving ease. Up and coming country-soul songwriter Obie McClinton seems like a find; from his pen, “Keep Your Arms Around Me” is another big highlight track. All ingredients from band to singer are exquisite. Last year’s debut had been really good, but this follow-up was greater still; classy and cool from start to finish.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jan-2010


TJR says:

7.31 “Really good”

Although LP liner notes often talked rubbish in the 60s, the back of this one noted: “These five young rebels are outrageously true to themselves. Defiant! Angry! Sad! They are honest to the point of insult!” In real-life the general sentiment was indeed that they were “boorish” lads. The line up at the time of release (for what it’s worth) was: Van Morrison (19, vocals, harmonica, tenor sax); Peter Bardens (20, keyboards); Billy Harrison (22, guitar); Alan Henderson (20, bass) and Pat McAuley (21, drums, piano, harmonica). Inter-group relationships were notoriously fragile and would change so frequently that not even the musicians themselves can remember who played what, where and when. What was unmistakable, always, was the confident soul-rock croon of Van Morrison. Despite their notorious “Anti-Top-of-the-Pops” / “Anti-Reporters” antics, Them were successful on their own terms, and this debut LP stands as a fine document of their Belfast brand of blues rock. Side 1, although full of solid numbers, is dominated by “Gloria”, the classic b-side to their 1964 single “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. It’s their “Louie Louie” and it will stand forever and a day as their teenage kicks anthem. Side 2 proves to have more strength in depth. Particularly fine are “I’m Gonna Dress In Black” – an organ-led mid-paced cracker which owes much to the Animals rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” – and “Bright Lights, Big City”, an up-tempo rocker which reimagines Jimmy Reed as if he were a member of the Animals. For all their prickly history, they were a terrific band and duds were virtually non-existent in their catalogue.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-May-2008


TJR says:

7.25 “Really good”

The debut album from the Glasgow-born singer-songwriter firmly places the artist in a distinguished guitar picker lineage which (purely from my own personal musical perspective) reads Blind Gary Davis; Dave Van Ronk; Martin Carthy; Bert Jansch; Nick Drake; James Yorkston. They all brought their own unique twists and turns; Bert’s was to play free and easy, veering from the delicate to the aggressive, with a conviction that was irresistible. At times his playing seems reckless – but he’s a master craftsman and knows his trade well; he’s in full control. All bar one of the fifteen pieces here were from his own pen, his excellent version of Davey Graham’s “Angie” being the one exception, right at the album’s close. It’s worth pointing out that the album’s rating would rise a half point (changing its status from “really good” to “brilliant”) were it not for the incidental little 60 second pieces which are placed to break up the “proper” songs from time to time. “Rambling's Gonna Be The Death Of Me” is a major highlight piece on side 1 – it’s a classic, with a nagging bluesy pick which fairly suits an age old bluesman theme: “No girl I've loved has ever held me down, No reason can I give for leaving this town, My love is true now, my love is true, But the road is long, I've got to see my journey through” The only surprise is that he wasn’t a gambler to boot. Not so common at this time, was the anti-drug song. “Needle of Change” certainly comes into that category. “One grain of pure white snow, dissolved in blood spread quickly to your brain, In peace your mind withdraws, your death so near your soul can't feel no pain. Your troubled young life, had made you turn, to a needle of death. Your mother stands a cryin', while to the earth your body's slowly cast, your father stands in silence, caressing every young dream of the past.” It’s mesmerising and the message is powerful – it’s said that kids paid attention to this, and that’s pretty cool. Speaking to Uncut magazine in January 2010 Bert said: “It's inspired by a friend called Buck Polly, a folk singer and one of the people I met when I first came to London. Buck used to drive (folk singer) Alex Campbell to gigs, because what he did for a living was repair gardens – we would drive along in these jalopies. About six months after meeting Buck and Alex, I was with them one day, Buck was in a bad mood; his wife wouldn't let him see the kids or something, something to do with money. And we went up to Goodge Street, a pub there called Finch's. Buck scored from a dealer. And the next day, I'd heard he'd died.” Bert’s debut was worldly wise – even if he himself wasn’t. He sold it to Transatlantic Records for the princely sum of £100. It went on to sell 150,000 copies. Not bad for a set which was recorded on a single microphone and a borrowed guitar in his kitchen, eh? That’s talent for you.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Nov-2008


TJR says:

7.13 “Really good”

He had just turned 19 by the time his first LP was issued, and he sounds fired up and ready to go; the first four tracks are a knockout and, although the rest of the LP can’t quite maintain the potency, there is a good level of consistency throughout. Album opener “Josie” is a love ballad which has a beautiful simplicity to it: “God bless ye darling Josie with your sparkling eyes so bright and clear, Josie I won’t fail you, have no fear“ with a late twist that spins a different complexion: “give me one more chance, the day is near“. One man, a mouth organ and an infectious repetition in the picking – it’s a winner all day long for me. His sweet talking serenades continue with the sublime “Catch the Wind”, re-recorded especially for the album, dropping the single’s strings and adding a harmonica solo. Although it sounds suspiciously close to Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” melodically, it’s a million miles away in lyrical terms. The daydreaming youth, yet a single man, is wonderfully portrayed as a hopeless romantic: “In the chilly hours and minutes, of uncertainty, I want to be, in the warm hold of your loving mind. To feel you all around me, and to take your hand along the sand, ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind” As if to prove that he’s not going to be a big drip for the rest of his life, Donovan digs back into American history with the first of six covers on the album, “Remember the Alamo”: “Jim Bowie lay dying, his blood and his powder were dry, but his knife at the ready to take him a few in reply, young Davy Crocket lay laughing and dying, the blood and the sweat in his eyes. For Texas and freedom a man was more willing to die. Hey Up Santa Anna, they're killing your soldiers below, so the rest of Texas will know, and remember the Alamo.“ Contrast is always good and, in terms of imagery, rarely can it ever have been so visually stark from track to track on any album! Taking the contrast down a different path in musical terms, “Cuttin’ Out” is a super-cool laid back jazz-blues, extremely whistle-able, and with more than just a passing resemblance to the old “St James Infirmary Blues” standard. Young Donovan is clearly well versed in the ways of the folk traditions already : – )

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.10 “Really good”

Released in August, and named after their recent comedy adventure film. The first side of the album features 7 songs from the movie, whilst the second side features other recent recordings. Kicks off with John’s stressed-out plea for “Help”; a message lost in the up-tempo pop-rocker, and is followed in a not too dis-similar vein by “The Night Before”. Lennon digging on Dylan is always likely to resonate well with me and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” – the album’s high point – soars into the all-time classic arena. “Here I stand, head in hands, turn my face to the wall, If she's gone I can't go on, feeling two foot small.” You just know he’s not faking. The fantastic “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” reverts back to their ’63 pop vibe – but with much-matured vocalizations and a neat line in bongonamics from Ringo. The excellent “Ticket To Ride” finishes off the film side on a high – it’s the sound of ’65 with its restless rhythms and irresisitible jingle jangle. Flipping over, and things aren’t quite so strong – I baulk at the inclusion of Buck Owens “Act Naturally”. On this side, “You Like Me Too Much”, “Tell Me What You See” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” had previously appeared on the American LP “Beatles VI” a couple of months earlier, hence the part compilation tag. The group are at their Folk Rock best on “Tell Me What You See” as harmony flavours flood out over a simple, but delicious, tambourine-jangle. The ever-shifting styles of this LP are highlighted at the very end with the ridiculous programming of “Yesterday” followed by “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”. I still can’t get over it, all these years later. Those crazy scousers…

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Dec-2005


TJR says:

7.09 “Really good”

13 brand new recordings (only 8 of which were made in London) plus, somewhat strangely, the 1957 recording “Nightbeat” which had previously been resurrected on the preceding LP “St. Louis To Liverpool” in 1964. This is a real strong set from Chuck, with some terrific R n B, most especially in the rip-roaring “She Once Was Mine”. Keeping things interesting he includes 3 imaginative covers, digging back to 1916 to remake Prince’s Band’s “St. Louis Blues”, and back to 1956 to re-interpret Irving Burgie’s “Jamaica Farewell”.

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Feb-2008


TJR says:

7.01 “Really good”

Another 11 cover versions on the second album and there’s no doubting that this band have got the right feeling for the R n B genre, and to their credit they don’t always stick exactly to the original templates. “Animal Tracks” includes fantastic covers of Bo Diddley (“Roadrunner”), Big Maceo Merriweather (“Worried Life Blues”) and Jimmy Reed (“Bright Lights, Big City”). Can white men play the blues? Hey, these Geordies PROVE it…

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Oct-2009


TJR says:

6.97 “Good”

Capitol wanted “Pet Sounds” out in time for Christmas 1965. That was never going to happen. The pressure from the label led to the “Beach Boys Party!” LP, issued in November 1965. The stopgap appeaser for “those who must be obeyed” represented something completely different. For the first time, the Beach Boys delivered (virtually) an all covers album… with an added twist. Recorded acoustically (with a light touch of electric bass) in the studio sporadically during September, the band and their friends rehearsed current and older hits, and presented them as an impromptu live recording of a party. In reality, the individual songs were recorded carefully, with laughter and background chatter being mixed in during post-production. The Olympics, The Beatles (thrice), The Rivingtons, The Everly Brothers, The Crystals, and even Bob Dylan are amongst those to whom The Beach Boys doff the cap. This album seems to have gotten a right old critical kicking, despite (in my opinion) being their best album yet. Human DNA eh? My ears and brain can only perceive the sheer unbridled joy of talented guys having “campfire style” fun with a set which gives fantastic insight to the core roots of the band’s influences. Just for the record, this sensory transmission reaches my fingers, toes and vocal chords. “Beach Boys’ Party!” is a complete winner… and, once again, Brian and the boys deliver a “stick that in yer pipe” to the label.

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Jan-2013


TJR says:

6.89 “Good”

Following a similar formula to the debut from just six months earlier, featuring five and a half originals, with five and a half covers (including two Dylan). The lack of space for originals was already proving to be a stress point for the group, with the varying song-writing talents striving to secure potentially lucrative album inclusions for their labours. Power struggles aside, the band delivered another fine set here, tending further towards the folk at the expense of the pop.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Feb-2008


TJR says:

6.86 “Good”

The third Kinks LP opens up with the sole cover, as they rock out with John Estes’s “Milk Cow Blues”. In stark contrast, the contemplative mid-tempo pop of “Ring The Bells” immediately follows – it’s old Kinks vs new Kinks and this proves to be atypical of the album whole. Best tracks on side 1 are the folk-rocker “I Am Free”, which is followed by the crunchy proto-punker “At The End Of The Day” which, essentially, is “All Day and All of the Night mkII”. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”, issued as the b-side to “At the End of the Day”, is a highlight on side 2. Ray Davies said: “We'd been rehearsing 'Where Have All the Good Times Gone' and our tour manager at the time, who was a lot older than us, said, 'That's a song a 40-year-old would write. I don't know where you get that from.' But I was taking inspiration from older people around me. I'd been watching them in the pubs, talking about taxes and job opportunities.” For all I’m digging new Kinks, it’s an old Kinks blues rocker which steals my heart, “It’s Too Late” – proto-Quo maybe but super-cool definitely. Good strong albums were coming from the Ray Davies pen; he was gearing up to take these kids on a musical journey…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Aug-2007


TJR says:

6.88 “Good”

Under pressure from Capitol Records who had expressed concern at the “melancholy” nature of the second side of the preceding “Today!” LP, “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)” seems, on the face of it, to be a bit of a backwards step. Unperturbed (or perhaps spurred on?) by this unwelcome interference, Wilson delivers an ever progressive compromise, with his variety of orchestral pop standing taller than the vast majority of his pop chart contemporaries in 1965. Is it any wonder that boy was stressing out all the time? If it wasn’t the record company it was his co-creator giving him grief. The tongue-in-cheek track “I’m Bugged at My Ol’ Man” was written as a none-too-subtle poke at his father Murry, who had been fired from his post as manager the previous year (though he was still occasionally showing up to either support, or badger, Brian in the studio). Ultimately, this is another solid set in The Beach Boys catalogue. Despite them all…

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Jan-2013


TJR says:

6.86 “Good”

Issued in April ’65. There are 8 Jean Ritchie compositions (often taking inspiration from traditionals) and 4 straight traditionals. Two tracks from Jean’s back album catalogue get a reworking – “Fair Nottamun Town” (originally done on “Kentucky Mountains Songs”, 1954) and “Come All you Fair and tender Ladies” (originally done as “The Little Sparrow” on “Kentucky Mountains Songs”, 1954). The re-appearance of “Nottamun Town” is interesting. The old medieval classic has long been a staple of Jean’s. 9 years after she had introduced it via “Kentucky Mountain Songs”, Bob Dylan had appropriated the melody and structure of Jean’s arrangement for his seminal “Masters of War”. It was good to remind folks 2 years post-Dylan who was the original master of the tune! The version here hardly strays a note from the one which was produced in ’54, “enhanced” only by what sounds like some extra, superfluous, acoustic bass lines. “Golden Ring Around The Susan Girl” immediately follows. It’s an intoxicating whirler… I just love that nagging repetition on the dulcimer and Jean’s voice is as natural as snow… “Do-si-do left, you Susan girl” … “Do-si-do right, you Susan girl”… makes me smile every time. “The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” is another major highlight. Jonathan Pickow (Jean's son) tells: “When Jean Ritchie was a young girl, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad had a little passenger train that ran by the mouth of the Slabtown Holler in Viper, Kentucky, where the Ritchie Family lived. When the coal mines shut down, the passenger service along with the coal trains was discontinued. It was one of the first signs of hard times. “The L And N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” is a reflection of the period.” How about this for a verse with the WOW factor: “Now I used to think my daddy was a black man, with script enough to buy the company store, oh but now he goes to town with empty pockets, and Lord his face is as white as a February snow.” Feart of a political backlash, Jean used the pseudonym Than Hall for songs such as these! Says the lady herself: “Than Hall was a pseudonym I took during the time I was writing my mining songs, (L&N, Blue Diamond Mines, etc.) My mother was living then, and “protest” was a bad word – not for me in NY, but I didn’t want anyone bothering Mom about it. I was with BMI at the time and they refused my use of my grandfather’s name, John Hall, because that was the then BMI president’s name, so I took the end of Johnathan, and became ‘Than. Around home, that was a common way shortening that name.” First highlight on side 2 is “With Kitty I’ll Go” (Roud 3052). Of this, Jean says: “This has become one of my favourite songs of all those gathered on our travels. It is lyrical and sentimental, yet lilting and humorous, and so beautifully Irish!”.Wild Horses” is another good ‘un, as Jean says: “it has a great driving rhythm, unusual for a song of mine, but I love singing it.” The LP finishes brilliantly with another enduring Jean original, “Blue Diamond Mines”. She laughs at herself as she recalls writing the song during an excursion with her husband, acclaimed photographer and producer George Pickow: “We were driving on a big trip and we went through a big pine forest. I was singing In the pines/in the pines/where the sun/never shines, and George said, ‘Why don’t you do a song called In the mines/in the mines?’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s silly.’ Then later on I felt, ‘Well, that is good, that’s a very natural thing to sing.’” Ritchie hums a note to herself before launching into a chorus: “In the mines, in the mines, In the Blue Diamond Mines, I have worked my life away, In the mines, in the mines, In the Blue Diamond Mines, Oh fall on your knees and pray.” Jean is forever untainted by commercial aspirations, and the purity just shines on through on this LP. The lovely lady sums it up best: “I believe that old songs have things to say to the modern generation, and that's why they've stayed around. That's also why I am still singing. I'm not afraid to be myself. Agents say you have to change and grow, but I believe you can sing the same songs and sing them better and grow new songs out of the old. I guess if I had to categorize myself or pin down a description of what I do, I'd have to say I'm a carrier of tradition.”

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Aug-2013


TJR says:

6.84 “Good”

In 1964, four every-girl school pals, with an exceptional talent for singing together, shot to fame overnight with a string of great girl-group singles, most notably the monster hit “Leader of the Pack” which rose all the way to the very top of the Billboard 100 in November. In the close-knit community of Queens, it wasn't so difficult for the stars to align and a certain young wannabe producer, George Morton, was the man who made it happen. In ’64, he himself was transformed overnight from credential-less to visionary. With his “prized possession” of the Shangri-Las, Morton signed as a staff producer for Red Bird Records and the group were tied to a 5 year contract. At the time of this first LP in February 1965, Mary Weiss (16) fronted the group and big sister Betty (18), a home body who often sat out tours and rarely appeared on TV, sang backing vocals. Twin sisters Marge and Mary Ann Ganser (17) completed the young line up. On the surface, their story was a dream come true – but sadly they were ripped off, and seen very little financial reward for their brilliant endeavours on record, not to mention their “brand” being used to endorse and promote all sorts of teenage product. The debut LP was presented complete with “image adjustment” – they were to be cast as street-wise tough-gals – the liner notes on the reverse of the LP were mounted on the back of a biker’s jacket – you get the picture? Yes, we see. The album features all 8 sides of their first 4 singles on Red Bird, all of which were issued in 4 hectic months from July to December ’64. In December, Gold Discs were awarded to the girls for “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” and “Leader of the Pack”, the major highlight of the LP. The maverick Morton had a surprise in store for the girls when they had turned up to record the latter in July; they were met in the studio by a real life, tanked up motorcycle. Vroom vroom! For all his inventive technique, the producer must take the blame for unwittingly sabotaging this work by drowning side 2 in a sea of fake audience clatter, completely undermining the power and the glory of the Shangri-Las sound. A good album – but it could have been a great one.

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Mar-2011


TJR says:

6.83 “Good”

Following a particularly stressful 1964, group leader Brian Wilson retired from touring, citing nervous exhaustion. Results from the new studio full-timer are immediate on “The Beach Boys Today!”, which includes a strong set of 10 new songs and 2 cool covers. The backing tracks are becoming ever-more complex, even as the stylings remain basically entrenched in the simple roots of R n B. The cover of Bobby Troup’s “Do You Wanna Dance” is particularly demonstrative of this, fusing Rock n Roll with Phil Spector to great effect. Those Ramones knew the score. The big hitters all appear on Side 1, including the best version of “Help Me Ronda” which is just that bit more raw and raucous than the rerecorded (and respelled) “Help Me Rhonda” single (which would also appear on the next album, “Summer Days”). Side 2 favours the balladeering approach and, although it doesn’t turn me on as much, it often serves up some decent offerings with the likes of “Kiss Me, Baby” hitting me hardest with its melancholy Shangri-Las vibe. More than anything at this stage, this album cements The Beach Boys as survivors, and a band that have the potential to continue onwards and upwards…

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Jan-2013


TJR says:

6.83 “Good”

All contents were hot off the press and out just in time for Christmas. All original compositions, there are eleven credited to Lennon / McCartney, two to George (“Think For Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone”) and one to Lennon / McCartney / Starkey (“What Goes On”). As Paul would later comment: “We always wanted every single record to have a different sound. We never wanted to get trapped in this THE Mersey Beat.” I think that’s particularly true on “Rubber Soul” – this a real progression into a more thoughtful, cerebral brand of pop. Fresh from their North American tour, the folk rock influences are still very apparent, whilst a mid-tempo soul rock feel is also to the fore. The wonderful curveball is delivered via George Harrison’s intervention on Lennon’s extra-marital affair shocker, “Norwegian Wood”, which is an absolute revelation. I would describe his contribution as masterful but he himself is rather modest about the whole thing: “I went and bought a sitar [in April ‘65] from a little shop at the top of Oxford Street called Indiacraft – it stocked little carvings, and incense. It was a real crummy-quality one, actually, but I bought it and mucked about with it a bit. Anyway, we were at the point where we'd recorded the Norwegian Wood backing track and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up – it was just lying around; I hadn't really figured out what to do with it. It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked.” Ravi Shankar eat your heart out. Two tracks later, the confrontational “Nowhere Man” bursts in with terrific 3-part harmonies from John, Paul and George: “Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me? Nowhere man please listen, you don't know what you're missing, nowhere man, the world is at your command.” Is he talking to ME? Gulp. Notably, my three favourite tracks on this LP feature John Lennon singing about his own life and the prettiness of “In My Life” on side 2 completes the set. On “Rubber Soul”, there’s much for the pseuds to get stuck into…

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2009


TJR says:

6.76 “Good”

’65 was another busy year for Wanda – she had been invited to record in Germany and soon found herself with German language hits in the charts over there. It would prove to be the start of a European journey which would figure large in her remarkable story. As well as this new development, she delivered two new albums on the home front, the first of which, “Blues in my Heart”, arrived in April. The album was recorded and produced by Ken Nelson in Nashville in May 1964. With Wanda were: Grady Martin (guitar), Harold Bradley (guitar), Lloyd Green (steel guitar), Bob Moore (bass), Buddy Harman (drums), Charlie McCoy (french harp), Floyd Cramer (piano) and the Jordanaires (backing vocals). It proved to be the best she’s ever done; an opinion of mine which was shared by the record buying public. It’s a country-fied version of the blues, as you might expect, and themed around the tried and trusted themes of the genre; world weary songs telling tales of loneliness in midnight hour. Just to make sure you get the message, at least 4 of the songs have “blues” in the title. Although there are one or two lightweights, there is generally a terrific depth to the work. First sign of greatness comes on track 2, a version of Carl Belew’s “Lonely Street”: “I need a place to go and weep where's this place called Lonely Street, a place where there's just loneliness where dim lights bring forgetfulness, where broken dreams and mem'ries meet where's this place called Lonely Street.” Lawdy lawd, the empty and blue tone is set. Just two songs later, Wanda delivers her finest moment in all of her recording history, as she reads a stunning version of Hank William’s “Weary Blues From Waitin’”, a tune which was issued as a single at the tail end of ’64. It’s that pleading vocal that gets me every time: “sweet Daddy, please come on home”. Wanda’s reading is impeccable; she cuts even deeper than the original – it’s so beautiful it nearly makes me faint. What a gal. Second last on the LP is “Night Life” – a cover of Willie Nelson’s tune of ’59. This is simply a great performance from singer and group, all feeling those blues together. Wanda herself acknowledges the chemistry halfway through: “talk to me blues” she encourages her players, who respond brilliantly and seamlessly in that special universal language. After that, ending the album with the poppy “Singing The Blues” seems like a betrayal…

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Aug-2015


TJR says:

6.63 “Good”

12 new cuts on Blue Beat 805, and so deemed the 2nd proper Prince Buster album, although saxophonist Val Bennett is, unusually, allowed to step up for 3 lead vocals. It’s an entertaining set in that it’s split between calypsos and ska numbers. I guess the cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” entitles them to name the set “Ska-Lip-Soul”. Very clever, I’m sure. Lovall takes full advantage of his chance to shine as front man, with a quick one-two whammy early doors – “Cut Munno” is a carnival riot and “Mek It Tan Deh Goosie” is a nonsense tale, but full of the joys of a parade in the sunshine. Western cover versions are often spoilers on Jamaican albums, but the band deliver a cracking trombone-led instrumental version of “Mr Wonderful”, originally done by Olga James in 1956 and made famous by Peggy Lee later that same year. My ears prick up for that “ice rink organ” on “How Can I Tell Them” – it always makes me smile when I hear so many of these styles that would later come back via the 2-Tone revolution. I also note that it’s only the second (and last) Buster composition on the LP. It’s not been one of his more prolific song writing sets, it has to be said. Speaking of which, the Prince does The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” in the style of Bobby Vee and completely lowers the tone… and at the same time ruins the album’s aforementioned conceptual feel. Val Bennett recovers things by taking the mic for “Matilda” and once again he’s heroically sifting traditional roots. The origins lie as a “Jamaican digging song”, and it was famously done by Lord Composer and His Silver Seas Hotel Orchestra in the early 1950s. Lovall himself played these tunes in 40s and 50s hotel sessions, and it’s great to hear him get a chance to get these songs onto a high profile release such as this one. The album finishes on a great high as Buster, Stranger Cole and Teddy Charmers perform as a harmony trio on “Rum And Coca Cola”, a number originally done by Lord Invader. As a vocal trio they’re pretty neat – watch out Maytals!

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Nov-2009


TJR says:

6.45 “Decent enough”

Second album proper from the sibling duo of 22 year old Inez on lead vocals, and her big brother Charlie on backing vocals and guitar. Production duties were handled by Inez’s husband, Luther Dixon. Inez is the star with her nicely poised vocal – highly soulful and emotive without resorting to the cheesy. They do like a bit of drama mind you – it was a highlight of their concert performances of the time when Inez would render a pleading rendition of “I Stand Accused” which finished with a supposedly distraught Inez singing the last verse, while being carried offstage by Charlie. Straight from the school of JB stage presence! The band are highly skilled in the art of southern soul, and are equally adept at driving the dancefloor rhythm as they are at empathising with the emotive ballad. This whole package gets the thumbs up from me…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.33 “Decent enough”

It's hard to find out the background to this LP – sources seem divided between 1965 and 1966 as to the year of release. I can find no solid information to sway me either way, so if anyone knows then please do holler. By the sounds of the rhythm section, I’d hazard a guess that much of the set was recorded in the UK, most notably the second side. It’s a decent enough offering, although I could happily lose all of the R n B numbers – and there are several of them. All of the best action is to be found on the Ska-heavy side 1, with “Street of Glory” (probably a Jamaican recording) opening up sharply with a neat line of trumpet and trombone. “Madame Sorosie” (which appeared titled as “Madame Serase” on the b-side to “Street of Glory”) keeps up the same standards, and was probably cut at the same session. “Call the Doctor”, again featuring some excellent trombone, is the third highlight on side 1. Lorenzo takes credit for 11 of the titles until the final track, where he covers “Leave My Woman Alone” (Ray Charles) with the immortal line “two men can’t eat out, out of one pot”. It’s entertaining, if not revelatory. Kinda sums up the album really…

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2012


TJR says:

6.30 “Decent enough”

The second Yardbirds album was compiled by Giorgio Gomelsky, the group’s impresario, for Epic in the United States. It was purposefully released in June 1965, just as the band were about to undertake a U.S. tour. Featured were all 6 sides of the first 3 Yardbirds singles, together with 6 new tracks – a real exclusive for the group’s American fans. With “For Your Love” having just peaked at no.6 in the Billboard 100, the album titled itself, in the eyes of the executives. The fantastic title-track opens up the LP in non-representative fashion – it’s a mile away from the group’s sound which remains entrenched in Blues Rockers. Despite the success of the single, it proved to be a deal-breaker for Eric Clapton who was unhappy with what he saw as a “pop” sell-out and, by the time of this album’s release he had joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Despite Clapton’s negativity, it was a terrific single; oddly framed by the most unusual use of a harpsichord instead of an organ. By all accounts, this was one of those happy accidents. When booked session man Brian Auger arrived to play his organ part, it was realised that there had been an oversight in the arrangements and that there was no organ to be found in the studio. Undaunted, Auger crafted the intro as best he could, and recorded the track. Upon leaving, he later admitted to wondering: “Who, in their right mind, is going to buy a pop single with harpsichord on it?” He needn’t have worried. People like fresh new sounds. Unless they’re called Eric. Although Clapton played on that and, indeed, on 9 of the album’s tracks, he was 4 months gone by the time of the June release, and he was not pictured or talked about on the sleeves. His replacement guitarist, Jeff Beck, features on three songs: “I'm Not Talking”, “I Ain't Done Wrong”, and “My Girl Sloopy”. “I Ain’t Done Wrong” in particular is fantastic – real punchy guitar and drum power, with solos which behave themselves. It seems a shame the UK fans never got a chance to buy this LP; there were some strange transatlantic goings on back in the day…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jun-2008

chart first published 28 Dec 2015; last edited 6 Mar 2016

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