Friday, 23 May 2008

The Syndicats: Howling Wolves!

If there ever was a Freakbeat anthem that must be "Crawdaddy Simone" a song that's been appearing in several comps over the last twenty years or so.
The Syndicats are usually mentioned by the mainstream, if at all, because they were Steve Howe's first band, he later achieved greater fame with Yes but for me and a whole lot of other people he reached his peak with Tomorrow.
In fact as far as I'm concerned Yes were better in the beginning with original guitarist and former Syn, Pete Banks.
(The Syndicats did NOT become The Syn...)
Actually "Crawdaddy Simone" is the only recording that does not feature Mr.Howe, he was replaced by Ray Fenwick.
That is the band in the above picture with Fenwick second from the left.

There is an absolutely wild, must see appearance at the UK TV show "The Beat Room", that you can not miss!
Syndicats Live & Wild at the Beat Room, 1964

They were formed in 1964 and saw several line-up changes.
Their three singles on Columbia (EMI) were produced by the legendary Joe Meek, with the first one not particularly brilliant and posted here for completeness's sake.
The second 45 is fantastic with a great B-side too featuring a kind of haunted house organ.
Syndicats Live & Wild at the Beat Room, 1964 (part 2)

Maybellene / True To Me, April 1964
Howling For My Baby / What To Do, January 1965
On the Horizon / Crawdaddy Simone, September 1965
01 Bo Diddley Medley (Live at The Beat Room, 1964)
02 Howling For My Baby" (Dixon)
03 What To Do" (Howe/Truelove/K. Driscoll/T. Driscoll)
04 Crawdaddy Simone" (Fenwick/Williams)
05 On the Horizon" (Leiber/Stoller)
06 Leave My Kitten Alone" (John/Titus Turner/James McDougal)
07 Don't Know What To Do" (Howe)
08 Maybellene" (Berry)
09 True To Me" (Ladd/Howe)
tracks 6 & 7 previously unreleased

NEW LINK (16 Jan 2009)

The Wheels: Belfast R&B Heroes!

The Wheels were led by Brian Rossi one of the main movers in the Belfast scene of the mid-60s.
There are strong links with Van Morrison's Them: not only they came from the same place and shared a stage together in the early days but they had a very similar repertoire and their first single was none other than "Gloria" backed by "Don't you know" written by Them's producer Tommy Scott and also recorded by Van & Co.
Fair enough The Wheels lacked in original material but they did great versions of numbers by John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and the likes, also the staple of many other great acts from England at the time such as the Animals for example.
And to England they went, moving to Blackpool in the Summer of 1964 and a year later signed with Columbia. After releasing the above mentioned 45 to little acclaim they went back to the studio to record five more songs including their crowning achievement and following single: "Bad Little Woman"/"Road Block".
That is one of the most powerful R&B single ever released and both tracks were composed by the band. It was released in February 1966 after which Brian Rossi left the band to be replaced by former Them member Erick Wrickson.
The new line-up issued what was going to be their last single, a version of "Kicks" backed by another Scott's number already recorded by Them.
Before their final split in 1967, Brian Rossi rejoined the band for a farewell tour in Belfast playing the venues that saw them starting.
There was also a single released in the US as The Wheel-A-Ways (to avoid confusion with Mitch Ryder's Wheels). It was the original demo of "Bad Little Woman" (backed by "Don't you know") that curiously was picked up by Chicago's The Shadows of Knight who already scored a hit with their cover of "Gloria", if you only know their version be ready for a treat...The Wheels original recording is amazing!
01 Gloria
02 Don't You Know
03 Mona
04 Bad Little Woman
05 Road Block
06 I'm Leaving
07 Send Me Your Pillow
08 You Got My Dizzy
09 Kicks
10 Call My Name
11 Tell Me (I'm Gonna Love Again)
12 Bad Little Woman [US Version]
all tracks recorded in 1966 except 1-3, 1965
tracks 3,6-8 & 11 previously unreleased.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

The Birds: London's Most "Dynamic" Group!

When I first heard The Birds thanks to the Edsel comp that gathered their first 3 singles I couldn't believe my ears. That was about 20 years ago and I still listen to the Birds and I still think that crunching guitar sound is amazing. Especially when we think it was 1964-1965.
The band included a very young Ronnie Wood on guitar, vocals and harmonica,Tony Munroe on guitar/vocals, Kim Gardner on bass, Ali McKenzie on vocals and Pete McDaniel on drums.
Their first single written by Wood came out on Decca in November 1964 and for the next two 45s they recorded a couple of Soul numbers but transformed them totally into powerful tunes with the inimitable Birds' aggression!
The B-sides were great too, both written by Ronnie Wood.
By the end of 1965 they were changing label and manager and their fourth final single was released on Reaction in 1966 actually as the Birds Birds after a suggestion by their new manager Robert Stigwood following their failed legal battle over the band's name when The Byrds toured England the year before...

They also appeared on the film "The Deadly Bees" in 1966 with the great unreleased track "That's all I need you for" and while they recorded few more songs nothing came out and eventually by 1967 it was all over.
Both Kim Gardner and Ron Wood joined The Creation in 1968.
01 You're on my Mind
02 You Don't Love Me
03 Leaving Here
04 Next in Line
05 No Good Without You
06 How Can It Be
07 Say Those Magic Words
08 Daddy Daddy
09 Run Run Run
10 Good Times
11 La Poupee Qui Fait Non
12 Granny Rides Again
13 You're on my Mind (Demo)
14 You Don't Love Me (Demo)
Tracks 1-2, 13-14 from 1964, 3-6 1965, 7-8 1966, 9-12 previously unreleased 1967.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Tages: Pop-Sike Dreams from Sweden

Tages were one of the most popular band in their country, hailing from Gothenburg they released several singles and a total of five LPs.
As you can imagine their sound changed and evolved as the Sixties went on and in my opinion they reached their best in the years 1966-1968.
I love some of their very early singles, especially their second "I should be glad" / "Cry", but as a whole I can live without a lot of the covers that they also recorded.

Here is a selection of some of my favourite tracks from the last couple of years of the band:
01 In my dreams
02 I still remember
03 Guess who
04 Jealous girl
05 Go
06 Gone too far
07 Extra
08 Fuzzy Patterns
09 Hear my lamentation
10 You're too incomprehensible
11 Wanting
12 Prisoner 763
13 It's my life
14 Like a woman
15 She is a man
16 It's in a dream
17 Fantasy island
18 To be free
Tracks 1-7:1966, 8-16:1967, 17-18:1968Photobucket

The Koobas singles 1965-1968...most of it!

I first came across The Koobas about 20 years ago when their 1969 self-titled LP was reissued by Bam Caruso. I loved that record, I even liked the strange name of the band...In the liner notes it said something like "too Pop for the Underground, too weird for the Pop fans".

They were from Liverpool and like The Beatles played the Star-Club in Hamburg in December 1963 and were even signed by Brian Epstein the following year. Initially called The Kubas, they started in 1962 with Stuart Leathwood and Roy Morris both on guitar and vocals, John Morris on drums (replaced by Tony O'Reilly), and Keith Ellis on bass.
They released several singles prior to that album and this post tries to collect them all... Their debut single, "I Love Her" b/w "Magic Potion," failed to chart, as did its follow-up, despite the exposure the group received opening for the Beatles on their final British tour.That first B-side is in fact missing, as well as "Sally" and "Take me for a while" perhaps somebody can fill the gaps...
They switched from Pye Records to EMI-Columbia in 1966, and continued playing live both in England, including a January 1967 appearance with the Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Savile Theatre (owned by Brian Epstein), and Continental Europe with a tour of Switzerland with Hendrix and appearing on TV shows in Germany.

The Koobas had several singles released in various European countries, like the above Danish 45 with a B-side unique to it, a song originally written and recorded by Bert Jansch. That one is included in the link below.
They did a great version of "The first cut is a deepest" a minor hit in Europe...or maybe not! Nevertheless it's a great single and I particularly like its B-side.
Here's their UK single releases:
I Love Her / Magic Potion 1965
Take Me For A Little While / Somewhere In The Night 1965
You'd Better Make Up Your Mind / A Place I Know 1966
Sweet Music / Face 1966
Sally / Champagne And Caviar 1967
Gypsy Fred / City Girl 1967
The First Cut Is The Deepest / Walking Out 1968

Monday, 12 May 2008

Olympic: Big Beat from Prague (1967-1968)

Olympic were the most important group during the 60s in what used to be Czechoslovakia, a country that spawned many great groups like The Matadors or the Slovakian Prudy to name just a couple. The Matadors are probably better known amongst foreigners since most of their stuff was recorded in English.
That was not the case with Olympic since, even though they started playing rock'n'roll covers, when they begun writing their own material they were the first to do it in their native tongue.
OLYMPIC: Czech Beat Greats! (FULL CLIP)

They released several singles, EPs and recorded the first album in Czech Rock's history in 1968 "Zelva" (The Tortoise). That year the band was touring France were an EP was issued with 3 songs in English, "Midsummer night" being one of my favourites showing the band going crazy, totally freaking-out, a must hear!
OLYMPIC "I'm stupid" (Ptak Rosomak)

"I'm stupid" is the English version of "Ptak Rosomak" (The Wolverine Bird!) which is also the title of their second LP released in 1969. The band had gone back home despite the events of 1968 when Russian tanks rolled into the country to put a stop to the so-called Prague Spring that had started earlier that year...
You can find "Zelva" the album thanks to or most recently
Here is that French EP that was released under the name The Five Travellers!
The rest was released as singles in 1967-'68, also included two more English versions of their songs that were featured on the compilation LP "Night Club '67".
01. Please don't leave me
02. Thoughts of a foolish boy
03. Story of a wonder
04. I'm stupid
05. Midsummer night
06. Pohreb sue vlastni duse (My funeral march)
07. Zelva
08. Snad jsem to zavinil ja
09. Dej mi na klin oci unaveny
10. Nejim a nespim
11. Krasna neznama
12. Ptak Rosomak
tracks 1 & 2 from "Night Club '67" LP, 3-6 "Five Travellers" French EP 1968, 7/8 single 1967, 9/10 single 1967, 11 single 1968, 12 single 1968.