Wermod members Rhys Jones and Maddie Towell research a few late sixties and early seventies 45s that went no further than promotional stage, but are nevertheless lovely listens (and relatively cheap too!)
Sam’s Friends – I Feel (London, 1966/7)
From the nether regions of British pre-folk rock comes this wonderful one shot recording from an expanded and the equally obscure The One, Two and Threes, that featured prolific folk session guitarist Pete Berryman, and was produced by future Bread Love and Dreams, and Davy Graham producer Ray Horricks. Sam’s Friends (Sam being a dog they took to gigs with them) were a dual harmony band featuring the lovely intertwined vocals of Billie Laney (who contributed the B-side “If I gave you my Love”) The quartet are backed by an electric ensemble arranged by Jerry Martin, who had released several sought after rock and roll 45’s on the UK’s branch of London Records. Whether this was supposed to capture a post-British invasion pre Mamma’s & The Papas moment, this 45 went no further than the promo stage which is quite a shame, as the baroque leanings and the blended harmonies make this a true treasure.
Toni Alexander - Liberated Woman / Today (Gramophone Records Company, 1974)
On the back of Helen Reddy’s 1972 “I am Woman” a slew of one shot singles seemed to have been produced to soundtrack the Women’s Liberation movement of the early 70’s. Late to the party gem is the lone release by SSW Toni Alexander who crafts a great upbeat track under the watchful production of Wooden Nickel staff producer Barry Fasman, and label owner/Afro Cuban afficinado, Oliver Berliner. Channeling Ellen McIlwain, the vocal delivery and passion is undeniable, but the best is yet to come. On the B-side is the Jefferson Airplane track “Today”, previously covered by lounge singer Zayne Adams and jazz saxophonist Tom Scott, that starts with a clarinet emulating an eastern drone before the mournful guitar intro creeps in. Toni’s voice resembles Janis Joplin at times and it ends with a soaring guitar solo. It’s such a shame that the promise of her album never materialised . She was quite a talent.
Gordon Rose – Out There (Capitol, 1971)
This peaked my interest as it was produced by Don Sebesky who crafted the far out ‘exploitojazz’ LP, The Distant Galaxy (Verve Records) before joining the ranks at Creed Taylor’s CTI Records. This interim curio is a musical Pandora’s box that I’m still trying to get my head around. Gordon Rose created an album called Look at the Look under his Generation Gap production company featuring a Groove Side (that features the A side,”Shoo Fly”) and the trip side (featuring “Out there”.) With the possibility of Capitol releasing it, they tested the water with this single, and although given a brief but favourable review in Billboard Magazine, it went no further than the promo stage. Perhaps given that, the not to be stopped Rose (now called Gordy Rose) shipped his compositions to low budget film distribution company, A.I.P, and these tracks (along with other compositions) made up the bulk of the ‘Some of my Best Friends are’ a trashy slice of New York gay cinema featuring Andy Warhol star Candy Darling. Along with “Out There”, two additional singles were released, that are quite different to “Out There”, no electronics for a start, but still remain amazing examples of urban outsider singer-songwriting that shares the same acid casualty charm as Skip Spence’s Oar.
Byron Peterson Combo (Featuring Kit Andree) – Scarborough Fair (Hoctor Records, 1969)
A curiosity in record collecting is finding reworked covers of classics. “Scarborough Fair” is no exception, since Paul Simon nicked the chord progression from Martin Carthy, “Scarborough Fair” has graced countless cover version compilations. Among the personal favourites are the folk-jazz band, the Roundtable, (on Jay boy), Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66’s woozy folk funk version and Wales’ own Diliau’s eerie folk rendition, “Ffair Ynys Hir”. Here dance record company, Hoctor, give Paul and Art’s standard a hard bop workout with house band Byron Peterson combo giving it a cool after-hours feel. Drummer Lee Arellano’s shuffling beat pins down Byron’s jazzy interplay with a low end bass throughout. The flip side features Peterson’s wife, Kit Andee, giving a rendition that’s both sassy and smokey, yet has a nice restraint to it .
Cathy Rich – Darkest Before the Dawn (World Pacific, 1969)
The daughter of renowned jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Cathy had cut her teeth giving her father’s rock and roll makeover a youthful voice (her vocals on “The Beat Goes On” are a guilty pleasure!) By 1969 she was in Liberty’s west coast jazz offshoot World Pacific cutting singles. Her first, a raunchy take on “Wild Thing”, produced by LA scenester, Kim Fowley, was a great slab of garage infused girl-pop and has been compiled recently. Her second release wasn’t quite as rocking but nevertheless a great release (which unfortunately went no further than a radio promo.) The ingredients for the A side, “Darkest Before The Dawn”, are far flung with workman-like production by Richard Bok, a staff producer to World Pacific who had worked faithfully with Buddy Rich during his now sound phase (including “The Beat Goes On”) and his other “slightlydelic” femme offerings include Terri Bêr‘s lone album and “asiaspoitation”, and concept album, Cosmic Remembrance, by Kali Bahlu. Among his other production credits was producing Ravi Shankar’s American recordings, his classical Indian reference points shine through on this cut.
Aneece and Joseph – I’m In Love (Nose Records, 1970)
The result of a Lebanese American endeavour with the rock stylings of sixties also ran The American Revolutions (here under the guise of Edge). Nose Records (an enterprise by Paul Massed) created a micro distribution deal focusing on advertising time on local L.A radio stations, whilst not gaining much airplay, and releasing a handful of 45s and one album (the aforementioned Edge) and all featuring compositions by prominent Lebanese composers . Who Aneece and Joseph were remains a mystery, what their sole 45 offers is a B-side that encompasses a post-surf folk sound (no doubt the influence of Drew Bennett (the engineer of the session and no doubt bassist on the set too) Bennet was a member of the Instrumental Surf Rock combo The Arrows (as well as psych band The Moon) gives a mystical (not psychedelic) feel to the proceedings whilst Arranger Fred Ramirez (known for his Latin Jazz funk workouts for Warner Brothers that include Donovan’s There is a mountain) I’m in Love has a lovely keyboard backing and laid back Summer Grove making this a nice addition to those who enjoy acts like the Free Design or Sunshine Company .
James Vincent – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (Big Tree Records, 1971)
Prolific session guitarist, James Vincent, has had an incredible career playing guitar under various guises; as Jim Donlinger he played with psychedelic bands such as Rotary Connection and Aorta, and even the reworked Reprise era H.P Lovecraft, not to mention the debut by faux-Satanist band Coven, which he openly disowns in his splendid biography ‘Space Traveler a Musicians Odyssey’. During this period, he also released occasional popsike 45s for the Ampex subsidy label, the Big Tree. Taking on a Joni Mitchell composition of “I Don’t know Where I stand” (No other studio recording exists of it.) Vincent adds a whole load of Laurel Canyon charm to the proceedings with lovely sitar interplay and hushed vocals throughout.
With thanks to Shaun Turner
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