Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Ne!l Y0ung - 1977 - H@rvest

Old Man/The Needle and the Damage Done/Heart of Gold/Harvest/Alabama

 Neil Percival Young, OC OM (born November 12, 1945), is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, producer, director and screenwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and others. Young had released two solo albums by the time he joined Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969, in addition to three as a member of Buffalo Springfield. From his early solo albums and those with his backing band Crazy Horse, Young has recorded a steady stream of studio and live albums, sometimes warring with his recording company along the way.

Young's guitar work, deeply personal lyrics and signature tenor singing voice transcend his long career. Young also plays piano and harmonica on many albums, which frequently combine folk, rock, country and other musical styles. His often distorted electric guitar playing, especially with Crazy Horse, earned him the nickname "Godfather of Grunge" and led to his 1995 album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam. More recently Young has been backed by Promise of the Real.

Young directed (or co-directed) films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He also contributed to the soundtracks of the films Philadelphia (1993) and Dead Man (1995).

Young has received several Grammy and Juno awards. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him twice: as a solo artist in 1995 and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. In 2000, Rolling Stone named Young the 34th greatest rock 'n roll artist.

He has lived in California since the 1960s but retains Canadian citizenship. He was awarded the Order of Manitoba on July 14, 2006, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on December 30, 2009.

The Foundations - 1968 - It's All Right FLAC

Back On My Feet Again/I Can Take Or Leave Your Lovin'/It's All Right/Baby. Now That I've Found You

The Foundations were a surprisingly obscure late-'60s outfit, considering that they managed to reach the tops of the both the British and American charts more than once in the space of a year and had a solid three years of recordings. At the time of their debut in mid-1967, they were hailed as being among the most authentic makers of soul music ever to emerge from England -- the best practitioners of the Motown sound to be found on the far side of the Atlantic -- and were also accepted in jazz circles as well. "Baby Now That I've Found You," "Build Me Up Buttercup," and "In the Bad, Bad Old Days" were the biggest hits for this multi-racial octet, made up of Londoners and West Indians.

The Foundations were formed in January 1967 in the basement of a local coffee bar in Bayswater, gathered together through advertisements in Melody Maker. Lead singer Clem Curtis was a former boxer from Trinidad, while lead guitarist Alan Warner had been making his living in the printing trade in London while waiting for music to pay off. Flutist/saxman Pat Burke hailed from Jamaica, tenor saxman Mike Elliott had played with Colin Hicks (brother of Tommy Steele) in his band the Cabin Boys, as well as in several jazz bands, and trombonist Eric Allan Dale was another jazz veteran. Tony Gomez (keyboards), Peter Macbeth (bass), and Tim Harris (drums) rounded out the lineup. They selected the name Foundations based on their surroundings, a rehearsal space in the basement of a building.

The group made very little headway during their first few months together, although they did manage to get an audition at the Marquee Club. It was at their regular spot at a much smaller club called the Butterfly -- where they played one legendary gig on the last night of the Stax/Volt European tour -- that led to their breakthrough. They were spotted by record dealer Barry Class, who was impressed enough with what he heard to become their manager. He arranged a meeting with Pye Records producer/songwriter Tony Macaulay, who was working with Long John Baldry with some success, but also was desperately looking for a new act to break for the label. He'd written a song with his partner John Macleod called "Baby Now That I've Found You," which seemed to suit the Foundations.
 The resulting single, issued in the summer of 1967, got no reaction from the public or on the airwaves until it got picked up by the BBC's newly founded Radio 1, by a stroke of pure luck. The station wanted to avoid any records being played by the pirate radio broadcasters, and looked back at recent releases that the pirates had missed. "Baby Now That I've Found You" was the immediate beneficiary, along with the group -- by November, the single held the number one spot on the British charts. The group's timing was as perfect as the song -- there had been a soul boom in England since late 1965, and the subsequent Motown and Stax/Volt tours by American R&B stars only heightened the public's interest.

The Foundations were hailed for being the first British band to come up with an authentic soul sound, and the fact that they were first multiracial band to top the British charts only made their success that much more impressive (at a time when England was beginning to come to grips with its own racial attitudes). What's more, the group had the goods to back up the press' accolades. Their performances revealed a seasoned, well-rehearsed, exciting stage presence and a bold, hard soul sound that most British bands managed to imitate only in the palest manner, if at all.

Meanwhile, their debut single got to number 11 on the American charts in the hands of MCA's Uni label, and it was equally well received in the rest of the world, selling something more than three and a half million copies. Suddenly, the Foundations were a British phenomenon and had a worldwide following. 

An album, From the Foundations, was duly recorded and featured some superb material, embracing both current soul and the then-popular discotheque sounds. The covers included everything from Joe Tex ("Show Me") to Tony Hatch ("Call Me," in a version worthy of Motown), as well as some new Macaulay/Macleod numbers. The debut album never made the British charts, but it remained in print for years, a perennial seller that held up well over time.

Unfortunately, a follow-up single, "Back on My Feet Again," didn't crack the British Top Ten, despite very heavy airplay and promotion, and barely made the U.S. Top 50. In retrospect, it may have been too similar to "Baby Now That I've Found You," which had sold in enormous numbers. Its relative failure led to the beginnings of a split between the group and Macaulay, as both songwriter and producer, exacerbated by the latter's decision -- as their producer -- not to permit the group to record any of their own songs, even as B-sides. Additionally, they felt that Macaulay reined in their "real" sound, making them seem more pop-oriented than they were.

These disagreements occurred at just about the same time that the group itself began experiencing internal fractures. It seemed to Curtis, in particular, that some of the other members, having topped the charts and chalked up an international hit, weren't putting out the same effort they'd been giving to the group when they were still struggling.

Curtis was persuaded to pursue a solo career, ironically right after he'd recorded perhaps the best track he ever cut with the group, a killer rendition of "It's All Right," a number they'd been knocking crowds dead with on-stage all along. (They also released a live album, Rocking the Foundations.) Additionally, saxman Elliott quit as well, and was never replaced. Curtis was succeeded by Colin Young, a good singer in his own right who fit in perfectly with the group's sound, and the reconstituted group hit once more in early 1969 with "Build Me Up Buttercup," written by Macaulay with Mike D'Abo, which reached number two in England and number one in America. "In the Bad, Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)" was yet another hit, reaching the U.K. Top Ten and the U.S. Top 30.

The band's success finally faltered when Macaulay exited Pye Records. As he later revealed, he was still being paid solely as a producer and he received no royalties for his songs, despite millions of copies sold. With his departure, the group was cut off from the only composer who'd written all of their hits. Additionally, the sounds of soul were changing faster than the group could assimilate it all -- they tried for a funkier, James Brown-type sound on their last recordings together in 1970 but failed to attract any attention.

                                                                                 Clem Curtis

 The Foundations split in 1970, and by the middle of the decade that followed, Curtis revived the band -- but so had Young, and both outfits were called the Foundations. A lawsuit resulted in Curtis getting the rights to the original name, while Young was allowed to use the New Foundations. The group remains fondly remembered, if not often written about, in England, and it achieved some fresh international recognition in 1998 when "Build Me Up Buttercup" appeared prominently in the hit movie There's Something About Mary. Curtis continues to perform in a revived version of the group, and he and Warner have recorded new versions of the Foundations' classic numbers. Various versions of the Foundations continued to tour into the first decade of the 21st century, including Curtis as Clem Curtis & the Foundations and Warner as Alan Warner's Foundations.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Mourning Reign - 1966 - Mourning Reign (1996)

Satisfaction Guaranteed/Our Fate/Light Switch/Cut Back

Formed in San Jose, California, USA, the Mourning Reign were garage band peers of the Chocolate Watchband and the Harbinger Complex. Initially known as the English, they comprised Frank Beau Maggi (vocals), Johnnie Bell (lead guitar), Steve Canali (rhythm guitar), Charlie Garden (bass) and Craig Maggi (drums). They were highly popular in the suburbs of south and east San Francisco, playing punk-styled material derivative of the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds. The group recorded a cover version of ‘Evil Hearted You’ as their debut in 1966, before completing a compulsive original song, ‘Satisfaction’s Guaranteed’, as its follow-up. Thomas O’Bonsawin then replaced Bell, but although two further tracks were completed for a third single, it remained unissued as the Mourning Reign split up in 1968 when several members were drafted to Vietnam.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Fortunes - 1972 - Four Hits From The Fortunes FLAC

Freedom Come Freedom Go/Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again/Storm In A Teacup/Eye For The Main Chance

The Fortunes are an English harmony beat group. Formed in Birmingham, the Fortunes first came to prominence and international acclaim in 1965, when "You've Got Your Troubles" broke into the US and UK Top 10s. Afterwards, they had a succession of hits including "Here It Comes Again" and "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again"; continuing into the 1970s with more globally successful releases such as "Storm in a Teacup" and "Freedom Come, Freedom Go".

The Fortunes were formed as a vocal trio (Rod Allen, Glen Dale and Barry Pritchard) - all three had been the Merrie Men backing Robbie Hood (A.K.A Mike West, previously co-singer with Fred Heath in Johnny Kidd & The Pirates). The Fortunes were originally backed by an instrumental group known as the Cliftones, and the band placed an instrumental track on a compilation album, Brumbeat, issued by the local Dial record label. "Cygnet Twitch" was a working of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake", and they subsequently signed to British Decca in 1963. Their first single, "Summertime, Summertime", was credited to the Fortunes and the Cliftones. However, the vocalists picked up guitars, jettisoned the Cliftones, and added Andy Brown on drums, and Dave Carr on keyboards. The follow-up disc "Caroline", co-written by the singer-songwriter and future Ivy League member Perry Ford and songwriter Tony Hiller, was used as the signature tune for the pirate radio station, Radio Caroline. 

 The group's next two singles, Gordon Mills's co-composition "I Like the Look of You" and a revival of "Look Homeward Angel" — like the initial brace of releases overseen by the American record producer Shel Talmy — also failed to chart. Their fifth release, the Roger Greenaway/Roger Cook number, "You've Got Your Troubles" (1965), reached Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and was a worldwide hit, including reaching Number 1 in Canada and the American Top 10. Their next two singles were "Here It Comes Again", a UK Number 4, and "This Golden Ring" a UK Number 14. These sold well, but each less than the previous release. When Glen Dale left in 1966 he was replaced by Shel McCrae. Three more singles ("You Gave Me Somebody to Love", "Is It Really Worth Your While?" and "Our Love has Gone") all failed to chart.

At this point in 1967, the Fortunes left Decca for United Artists. They reunited with Talmy for their next release, "The Idol", a song they had written themselves, and although it did get some airplay in the UK, it did not become a hit.

 The Fortunes also recorded an advertisement for Coca-Cola in the United States. Their first recording in 1967 was a version of the theme tune, "Things Go Better with Coke", but they are most remembered for introducing the 1969 new slogan recording, used as the main theme for Coca-Cola on both radio and television commercials — "It's The Real Thing".

In 1968, they tried covering The Move's hit "Fire Brigade" for the US market, but with little airplay or sales. In 1970, they recorded an album for the US World Pacific record label, and then signed with Capitol in both the UK and US in 1971.

Then followed a steady succession of singles, some of which were hits outside of the UK and US, culminating in 1972 with the release of "Storm in a Teacup (The Fortunes song)". During this period, they had another worldwide hit, "Here Comes that Rainy Day Feeling" (1971).

P. J. Proby - 1968 - I'm Coming Home FLAC

I'm Comin' Home/Turn Her Away/Together/I Apologise

 PJ Proby was born James Marcus Smith on November 6, 1938, in Houston. His great-grandfather on his mother’s side was the outlaw gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and his father was a successful banker. He was educated at the strict San Marcos Military Academy, but even at school he was known as a bit of a hellraiser and was early on convinced that he was a genius and destined for greatness of some sort. His showbiz ambitions started early with local preteen appearances singing country music. He met Elvis Presley on that circuit when he was just 12 or 13 and Elvis at one point dated his step sister, Betty. But this was just the start of Proby’s improbable, Zelig or Forrest Gump-like ability to always be where the action was. Even at that age, he just was warming up, but already in the right places at the right time and always with the right crowd.

After moving to Hollywood in the mid-50s to become and actor and/or a singer, Smith took the name “Jett Powers” and recorded the single “Go, Girl Go!,” which is best known today as a song that the Cramps dug. (Jett’s backing band the Moondogs included Elliot Ingber/“Winged Eel Fingerling,” later of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, on lead guitar). Signed to a songwriting and performing contract with Liberty (along with the likes of Leon Russell and Glen Campbell), he recorded under the name Orville Woods so that the public would think he was black!

 Additionally Proby made a living working as a bodyguard for closeted gay entertainers like Rock Hudson, Liberace and Tab Hunter (by his own account, brutally dispensing anyone who dared hassle one of them in a “gay bashing” manner). Proby also recorded “vocal guides” for $10 a pop so that performers like Elvis could more efficiently make use of expensive recording studio time. (He did twenty such vocal guides for Presley, mimicking his singing style in a full-throated manner that was said to have amused the King.) In early 1964 Jackie DeShannon and songwriter Sharon Sheeley (who’d been his best friend, Eddie Cochran’s, fiancée) introduced Proby—then bearded and wearing his hair extremely long as he was hoping to play the part of Jesus in a musical—to Jack Good who was visiting from London. The meeting would change the course of his life.

Good, the prominent TV producer and manager who gave the world Shindig!, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and others of Britain’s first wave of rock and roll stars (he’s also the guy who convinced Gene Vincent to don that Richard III garb) is alleged to have grabbed Proby’s ponytail to see if it was real. Soon afterward, Good’s secretary called from London and offered the complete unknown a spot on the Beatles’ upcoming television special “With the Beatles.”

 When the show aired, Proby immediately became extremely famous, the very definition of the overnight sensation, even if his fame was to be short-lived. A single, “Hold Me” was recorded and rushed out so quickly that a stray vocal was inadvertently pressed into the record’s fadeout on the initial run. The song became a smash, reaching #3 in the UK charts. He racked up more hits with utterly histrionic (and almost insane-sounding, yet mesmerizing) cover versions of West Side Story‘s “Somewhere” and “Maria,” as well as with a song the Beatles had tried unsuccessfully to record for the Help! soundtrack, but that none of them could adequately sing. They opted to gift the song, “That Means a Lot,” to someone with the pipes who could, their American pal (well at least Lennon liked him) Proby. Incredibly, George Martin even arranged the song for him!

What insane luck, right? Soon Beatles manager Brian Epstein set up Proby with a UK package tour, co-headlining with Cilla Black. That’s when things got a bit out of the egotistical young rocker’s control: At a date in Croydon, Proby clad in his trademark tight velvet jumpsuit and looking like an 18th century dandy, was doing his James Brown-inspired stage act (the likes of which still staid post war Britain had not yet seen) and slid across the stage, tearing his pants around the knees and upwards from there. The crowd of teenaged girls went utterly mad, but the incident caused a stir in the media getting Proby on the radar of Britain’s self-appointed moral censor, Mary Whitehouse. When Proby did the same thing two nights later it was widely reported that he’d done something lewd in Luton. The Daily Mirror wrote that he was a “morally insane degenerate” and urged parents to keep their children from attending one of his shows. Whitehouse called his “thrusting” obscene but Proby claimed otherwise and available photos seem to corroborate his side of the story. He was kicked off the tour anyway and banned from the ABC theater chain and BBC radio and television. This was a good decade before the Sex Pistols, of course. Proby had a few more semi hits, but without radio play his star quickly faded. 

Back in Hollywood, Proby had his sole Billboard Hot 100 Top 30 hit with the infectious cajun-spiced rocker “Niki Hoeky.” He bought a mansion in Beverly Hills and married one of Dean Martin’s daughters. When he found out that she’d been having an affair with his car mechanic and saw them walking together hand in hand, he discharged his gun in the air several times to intimidate them. He soon found himself surrounded at gunpoint by much of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department and did a three month stint in a holding cell before moving back to the UK. He recorded his Three Week Hero album in 1968 with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, then of the New Yardbirds, but soon to be rechristened Led Zeppelin. It was the very first time all four of them would be inside of a recording studio together.

In 1971 Proby played Cassio on the West End in Catch My Soul, Jack Good’s rock musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. He made the cabaret and nightclub circuit for money and even recorded an album with the Dutch prog rockers Focus (it’s amazing!). In 1977, again with Good producing, he co-starred in Elvis – The Musical—Shakin’ Stevens played the young King of rock and roll while Proby played him in his later years—which won a Best Musical award the following year. Proby was fired when he began getting drunk before going onstage and started speaking directly to the audience.

 There are all kinds of crazy PJ Proby stories involving Jack Daniels, bankruptcies, guns, underage girls, more guns and more Jack Daniels. Every once in while during the 80s he’d turn up again in some completely insane or scandalous situation. He went through six wives. He worked as a shepherd on a farm before running off with the farmer’s daughter. He recorded some totally off the wall covers of songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Heroes” and “Tainted Love” for the Manchester-based Savoy label, there was at least one fairly lurid television news piece about him (see below) and several “where is he now?” type articles. He was able to keep the wolves from the door singing on the oldies circuit for many years and been sober for a long time, but still has a reputation for being a bit “difficult.” (He is said to have burned through five road managers on a 2015 Australian oldies tour.) Proby recorded the remarkable Legend album with Marc Almond and Neal X, with a duet with Almond—the soaring “Yesterday Has Gone”—reaching #58 on the UK pop charts in 1996. (It’s well worth seeking out if you are so inclined, I think it’s a super strong album.) He toured with the Who during their 1997 Quadrophenia US and Europe show playing the role of the Godfather.

 As late as 2011, Proby was still getting himself into trouble, being charged with nine charges of benefit fraud, specifically for signing on the dole while failing to declare savings and that he’d been working again. He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and was cleared all of them in 2012. He celebrated by recording two loopy new songs “I’m PJ” and “We The Jury”. In 2015, he performed with Van Morrison on the album, Duets: Re-working the Catalogue, actually singing Morrison’s 2002 song “Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby” with him and simultaneously answering that question himself: PJ Proby was still improbably here.

PJ Proby’s wild life has been bizarre and outsized—and his talent so HUGE—that if this is your first exposure to him (and odds are that might be) you probably can’t believe you’ve never heard of him before. But he was always his own worst enemy which is why he remains the Zelig of rock, a fascinating footnote of celebrity in our time. PJ Proby is meant to be sitting on the manuscript of a 500 page autobiography. I hope it gets published. No one will believe it. A documentary film, long in production, titled PJ Proby: A God Amongst Men (how he has often described himself, apparently not completely without irony) remains unreleased.