Monday, 16 May 2022

1969 Bubblegum/Pop/early Power Pop: Marshmallow Way - Marshmallow Way (1969 United Artists)

 


Marshmallow Way was a pet project for two well-known pop songwriters, Billy Carl (born Carlucci) and Reid Whitelaw, the men who wrote 1910 Fruitgum Company’s 1968 single, “Goody Goody Gumdrops.” After that song was a hit for bubblegum kingpins Kasenetz and Katz, Carl and Whitelaw sought to duplicate K&K’s success on their own and ultimately signed a production deal with United Artists Records. A band was picked from the New Jersey dancehall circuit, renamed Marshmallow Way and put to work recording a set of Carl/Whitelaw compositions. The resulting album, the self-titled Marshmallow Way, was released in 1969, just after the bubblegum craze was reaching its peak.

Beyond the songwriting and production team of Carl and Whitelaw, the personnel of Marshmallow Way is largely unknown. Only the lead singer, Tomm Nardi, is known by name, and this mostly due to his later success with garage hard rockers Sainte Anthony’s Fyre.

A glance at the album jacket—and even a quick read of the song titles—leave no doubt as to the type of music on Marshmallow Way. The front cover is a photo collage of the five band members trapped in a gumball machine that is dispensing marshmallows! The back cover depicts the band floating in the air on a giant marshmallow over a giant marshmallow pie. The song titles are similarly themed: “Michigan Mints,” “Sugar and Spices,” “Sweet Thing,” “C’mon Kitty Kitty.” Hardly subtle.

I first heard of Marshmallow Way through Leonard Los who described the album as “a less silly version of 1910 Fruitgum Company”—a description that is entirely accurate: this is not your little sister’s bubblegum.  “C’mon Kitty, Kitty” opens the album with a glammy drum fill and descending chord pattern that breaks into a power pop hook that reminds me of the material on Sloan’s Between the Bridges: pure pop, but with a definite edge.

 “Keep My Fingers Crossed” is a mix of bubblegum and Chi-Lites soul, with a great falsetto chorus and perhaps overly earnest romantic lyrics. “Michigan Mints” is a straightforward ode to a regional brand of candy set to a bouncy rhythm not unlike Bobby Sherman’s singles from about the same time. “Give and Take” opens with a Tradewinds-meets-Beach Boys vocal arrangement and displays hints of the early Rascals. “Sugar and Spices” is the most straight-ahead bubblegum track and features a ridiculous litany of sweet treats, including, finally, a girl’s kisses. “Good Day” is an acoustic folk-rock song similar to the cheerful approach of Alzo and Udine, though a little slicker in terms of production. The album closes with “Music, Music” and another commonplace of bubblegum: a vaguely soul-based song paying tribute to the powerful effects of “pretty music.” This is more watered-down than usual, but offers lovely changes and a solid vocal arrangement.

At least two singles were released from the album: “C’mon Kitty, Kitty”/“Sugar and Spices” and “Good Day”/“Music Music.” Neither single seems to have had made much of an impact on the charts and Marshmallow Way was unfortunately never heard from again.

Marshmallow Way is long out of print and has never been reissued on CD. Vinyl copies appear occasionally on second-market sites, but are fairly hard to find. (popgeekheaven.com)


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70s british Teen/Glam/Bubblegum: Buster - Buster 1977 ( 2008 Airmail Archive, Remastered)

 


Buster was the name of a British pop band of the 1970s. Their only hit in the British charts was the single Sunday, which was listed at number 49 for one week in 1976. The band had more success than in Europe in Japan, where they managed to place four singles in the Top 20.

The teen band formed in 1972 on the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool in the northeast and Wales in the southwest, under the name The New Attraction. As a semi-professional group, the band members were still at school, they played their gigs mainly in the north of neighboring Wales.

 In 1974 they were signed by RCA Records; in the process the band name was changed to Buster. Their singles were written by Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe and produced by the two of them with David Mackay - the team that was also responsible for the first successes of Bonnie Tyler. The very first release brought Buster their only hit in the British charts. The single Sunday, released on May 14, 1976 with the B-side Salt Lake City - Silver Gun, placed in the Top 50 for a week on June 19, 1976. In Germany, their single Love Rules charted at number 20 on the airplay charts in 1977. The music was classified as glam rock or bubblegum; Buster have been compared to the Bay City Rollers.


While their other singles had little success in their home country - the musical tastes of British youth had by now shifted more to punk - Buster became stars in Japan. Sunday was a top 10 hit, and further releases entered the top 20 of the Japanese charts. They went on tour, culminating in two sold-out concerts in one day at the Budokan. (wikipedia)



The band was certainly a bit late with their teen sound, as the glam and bubblegum wave was already slowly dissolving by mid '76. Even if the "Rollers" were still very successful with a part of the audience, the time of the so-called teen bands was slowly coming to an end. Certainly, at the right time, with the right concept, the band could have easily kept up with such successful acts as Kenny, the Bay City Rollers and similar teen bands. (Frank) Enjoy!



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Sunday, 8 May 2022

Wonderful British Baroque Folk/Psychedelic Folk/Folk Rock/Folk Pop: Evensong - Evensong 1973 (Merry Go Round 2010) mono/stereo

 


Released by Philips in 1973, Evensong's self-titled album is a highly regarded British folk-pop artifact that has received critical acclaim and sold well. The duo's fragile, harmony-drenched songs are instrumentally underpinned by veteran studio musicians Clem Cattini, B. J. Cole and Herbie Flowers, with artful string arrangements by former Spencer Davis Group guitarist Ray Fenwick. (walmart)


I can't praise this album highly enough. I'm not really a big folk fan, but this album just blew me away the first time I heard it. Every song is just great. The string arrangements by Ray Fenwick really enhance the feel of the songs. Everything about this album is just right. I can only recommend it to everyone. Simply beautiful music. Enjoy.(Frank)





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60s Pop by David & Jonathan - David & Jonathan (1966-68) (2011 Repertoire Records) 2 Disc (Disc 1 'David & Jonathan' 1966 & Disc 2 'The Best Of')

 


Most famous for their hit cover of the Beatles' "Michelle" in early 1966, David & Jonathan were a harmonizing duo from Bristol, England, with more ties to the MOR vocal sound than the British Invasion. Actually named Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook, 

the pair were primarily songwriters rather than performers, penning "This Golden Ring" and "You've Got Your Troubles" for another British vocal group, the Fortunes. Beatles producer George Martin worked with the renamed David & Jonathan in the mid-'60s, and their soft ballad treatment of "Michelle" made the Top 20 in both the U.K. and U.S. Their smooth dual leads were in the vein of Chad & Jeremy, but even more pop-oriented.

David & Jonathan had another big hit in Britain in 1966, "Lovers of the World Unite." But Greenaway in particular would experience his greatest success as a composer. Sometimes in collaboration with Cook, and sometimes not, his songs were a fixture of the British pop scene in the '60s and '70s. The quality of these hits was variable indeed, ranging from the excellent (the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman" and Gene Pitney's "Something Gotten Hold of My Heart") to the banal (the Pipkins' "Gimme Dat Ding" and Whistling Jack Smith's "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman"), as well as smashes for Blue Mink, Engelbert Humperdinck, White Plains, and others. (Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com)


I think Greenaway & Cook are household names for anyone into sixties pop music. Not only as songwriters for other artists and acts of that time, but also to perform their songs themselves. Their songs were in the ''MOR'' sound at home and the arrangements above all with orchestral sounds and polyphonic vocal harmonies laid out. Simply great and absolutely recommendable. Enjoy!(Frank)





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Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Instrumental/Guitar: Hank Marvin - Hank Marvin 1969 (1998 Parlophone, EMI, Expanded Edition) Remastered

 


A major influence on British guitar heroes of the '70s such as Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, Hank Marvin played lead guitar for the Shadows, one of the U.K.'s top instrumental outfits and the backing band for Cliff Richard on most of his hits. Born Brian Robson Rankin on October 28, 1941, Marvin grew up in Newcastle learning guitar, banjo, and piano. He played in various skiffle groups around the area, and met up with rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch. After moving to London in 1958, the two were recruited to serve in Cliff Richard's backing band, the Drifters, with Ian Samwell and Terry Smart. Richard's first single, "Move It," hit number two on the British charts, and two other singles -- "Living Doll" and "Travellin' Light" -- hit number one the following year. Samwell and Smart left the band -- now called the Shadows, to avoid confusion with the American vocal group -- and they were replaced by bassist Jet Harris and drummer Tony Meehan.

LP Label Columbia 1969

The Shadows recorded several sides as an instrumental act in late 1959; one called "Apache" hit number one in the British charts. From 1960-1963, the band racked up four number ones and seven Top Ten hits before disbanding in 1968. Marvin, while continuing to appear and record with Cliff Richard, began a solo career with a self-titled album in 1969; it reached number 14 in the album charts. In the early '70s, he reunited with Welch and John Farrar as Marvin, Welch and Farrar. The trio recorded both an eponymous LP and Second Opinion, and then Marvin and Farrar recorded an additional album as a duo. Marvin moved to Australia and became a Jehovah's Witness in 1973, but later joined a re-formed Shadows. The group resumed recording, and hit the Top Ten in 1978-1979 with "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Theme from 'The Deerhunter.'"

Original '69 Back Cover

Hank Marvin's only chart success as a solo act was 1982's Words and Music, which featured the U.K. hit "Don't Talk." He recorded All Alone with Friends in 1983, and then re-appeared in the '90s with four albums: Into the Light, Heartbeat, Hank Plays Cliff, and Hank Plays Holly. Continuing to perform on the live circuit and release throughout the 2000s -- including the U.K. Top Ten albums Guitar Player and Guitar Man -- Marvin also delivered guest spots for the likes of Jason Donovan and Richard Hawley. 2014 saw Marvin branching into jazz territory with the release of Django's Castle, on which he was joined by rhythm guitarist Gary Taylor and accordionist Nunzio Mondia. Marvin returned in 2017 with Without a Word, which featured covers of songs by some of Marvin's favorite artists, including the Beatles and Elvis. (John Bush, allmusic.com)


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(Retro) 60s Girl Group Pop: It's My Party! - Can I Get To Know You Better (2000 Mister Cat Records)

 


Producer John Giotto was the driving creative force behind It's My Party, a band that paid homage to the girl groups of the '60s while bringing their sound into the modern era. Giotto formed the group in the late '80s with a trio of female singers in their twenties, initially creating a sound more reminiscent of the Go-Go's than the Ronettes. When that original incarnation disbanded in 1995, Giotto realized something was missing from the equation: real teenagers singing those anthems of teenage femininity.

He recruited three girls from a nearby high school, and It's My Party was eventually formed. Although the singers occasionally rotated, Giotto remained dedicated to preserving the phenomenon of '60s girl groups through reinterpretations of both classic hits and original material. (Matthew Springer, allmusic.com)

Of course this sound is something for fans in the first place. Nevertheless you should listen to the (retro) sound of this project. Giotto as well as the musicians and all involved in this project created great pop tunes in the garb of the sixties girl groups. (Frank)Enjoy!


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Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Sixties Psychedelic Garage Rock/Pop: The Troyes - Rainbow Chaser - Complete Recordings (1966-1968) (2014 Cicadelic) Remastered


Based in Battle Creek, Michigan, the Troyes existed from1965 to 1968. Although the band produced only two singles during their time together, they cut enough material for an album that unfortunately failed to surface. Thank goodness the shelved tapes were not tossed in the trash, and at long last here’s the complete audio history of the Troyes.


Released September 1966, the title track of the collection marked the band’s first single and peaked at the number three spot on the local charts. Lit by the spunky hum of a pumping Farfisa organ, “Rainbow Chaser” is further wrapped in a pleasing package of gripping melodies, a biting guitar solo, and just the right amount of sass and spit to spawn a cool garage rock vibe, while the flipside of the single, “Why,” captures the Troyes laying down a shower of smooth and soulful moves.

 The band’s second single, “Love Comes, Love Dies” arrived in March 1967 and deftly nailed detailed psychedelic pop informed figures to an expressively brooding beat. Tucked on the back of the track was “Help Me Find Myself,” which jumps, jerks, and jolts to and fro and round and around to a shaking showcase of dancing organ trills and lively rhythms. Eager and able to play a mix of musical styles, the Troyes still seemed partial to hard rocking riffraff. Pronounced by a gut-wrenching vocal performance and aggressive licks galore,


 “I Don’t Need You” spills forth with lethal doses of angst and venom, and then there’s “Cornflake” that screeches and screams with the kind of acid-related heaviness linked with acts like Blue Cheer and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A noted Electric Prunes influence manifests on the spooky, and oddly but inventively structured “Tomorrow,” and “The Good Night” rocks and rattles with naked emotion. The Troyes had fire in their tummies and raw energy, which are needless to say, proper accessories needed for being in a rock and roll band.


Drawing their main inspiration from bands such as Them, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Five Americans, and occasionally the paisley-pierced folk aspects of Donovan, the Troyes conceived a sound that leapfrogged from scruffy suburban blues to radio-friendly pop rock. Driven and determined, the band probably would have gained far wider success had promotion been stronger. Not until now have the Troyes been awarded a retrospective, so what a joy “Rainbow Chaser” is, which also includes a chunky booklet telling the tale of the band. (Beverly Paterson, psychedelicbabymag.com)


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Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Wonderful Bossa/Light Psychedelia/Lounge/Easy Listening: The New Wave - Little Dreams The Canterbury Recordings 1967 (2011 Now Sounds) Stereo & Mono

 


Tommy André and Reid King, two illustrious Californian unknowns who, besides their passion for young girls in bloom, shared a common taste for graceful and airy melodies, psychedelic treats and new wave cinema (which explains the name of the band). 

So it's no surprise to find, in the middle of this collection of jewels made by the duo, a cover of a song from Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" rearranged into an intoxicating and melancholic bossa.

After this rereading, the rest of the album oscillates between pop, folk, jazz and classical music. The songwriting, staggering for young men barely twenty years old, is permanently sublimated by Gene Page's arrangements and the inimitable playing of the "West Coast" musicians of the time, most of them coming from the famous Wrecking Crew that Phil Spector and Brian Wilson liked so much. 

At the bend of a harpsichord note, we even find Van Dyke Parks, whom pop symphony enthusiasts know well for having greatly participated in the construction of the "Smile" cathedral with Wilson. Like the genius of the Beach Boys, André and Reid also possess that unheard-of instinct for complex (but never pretentious) harmonies and baroque reveries all wrapped up in oboes, vibraphones, strings, brass and light guitars.

Released in 1967, 'Little Dreams' was an instant hit and made its way to the US charts before being halted by a disagreement between the duo and the record company. The recent resurrection of this album, which went out of print too quickly, has further fuelled the fantasy of a "Summer of Love" as an inexhaustible source of musical marvels. We will keep it preciously on our shelves between Sagittarius' "Present Tense", the Hollies' "Butterfly" and Love's "Forever Changes". All those albums that leave the lazy journalist speechless and inevitably force him to give in to the temptation of adjectives. Magnificent. (Mickael Choisi, popnews.com)


A wonderful, almost beautiful album that these two young guitar virtuosos gave us in 1967. Great guitars, loose and airy sound arrangements, for me a great record. Enjoy.(Frank)







Pop/Pop Rock: Joey Stec - Joey Stec 1975 (2011 Air Mail Archive, Japan)

 


Joey Stec will be a familiar name to fans of The Millennium, a Southern California group who were the brainchild of producers' Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher, and Keith Olsen. The group's album, Begin (Columbia 1968) is an obscure classic of the period, as well as being one of the most expensive albums recorded by Columbia at the time. Joey Stec was one of the main members of that band, and his own self-titled album is, in its own way, a classic of the period that it was done in as well.

in the great sixties
Released in 1975, The Joey Stec Album is loaded with great pop-rock hooks ("Do You Know"), introspective ballads ("No Knowing," which recalls Neil Young's work from this period) and delightful, joyous singing, songs and performances. Unlike many records like this from the mid-70's, this album actually has retained its freshness, and that alone is an incredible feat. Masterfully produced by the great Jimmy Miller (Traffic, Rolling Stones, etc.), the album features stellar guest performances by such heavyweights as Bobby Keys, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and others.


 In fact, this album can accurately be described as a poppier version of The Dominos, crossed with the Beatle-esque pop sensibilities of groups as Badfinger and Big Star. Mostly, though, it sounds like Joey Stec, which is a wonderful thing in itself. Absolutely delicious. (Matthew Greenwald, allmusic.com)

You know, as a Boettcher fan, Joey Stec is of course also a ''must'' for me. But simply because Joey Stec released a damn great album in 1975 that has no weaknesses and meets the spirit of the times. 😄😄😄😄😄 out of 😄😄😄😄😄 Smilies for Joey. Enjoy.(Frank)



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Monday, 25 April 2022

60s British Invasion Pop/Folk/Beat: Peter & Gordon - The EP Collection (1995 See For Miles) Reissue

 


Although this 29-track compilation is ostensibly a roundup of songs that appeared on foreign EPs, it actually serves as a greatest-hits collection of sorts. The sequencing is unfortunately haphazard, jumping all over the place chronologically, but it does include all ten of their U.S. Top 40 singles. In fact, it's a substantially better deal than the domestic best-of that appeared on Rhino a few years before this; it has more songs, presents some pretty good B-sides and non-45 tracks, and puts a greater weight on their original compositions. 

The inclusion of four French songs from a rare EP will please collectors, although for general listeners' purposes it would have been wiser to feature the English versions.

So if you make a compilation of EPs by an artist, you should also do it in chronological order imho. Well, you can't have everything.😉 Enjoy.(Frank)


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