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Monday, March 17, 2014

Glam Rock Cinema

"The Glitter Band Will Save Us!"
 
 
 
Finally out on DVD (by Odeon Entertainment) are a couple of mid-'70s curios, namely British musical comedies "Side By Side", and "Never Too Young To Rock".
Both were made in 1975 by G.T.O. Films and featured a number of Glam/Teen Pop acts of the day, such as The Glitter Band (NTYTR), MUD (in both films), The Rubettes (in both), Slik (NTYTR), Kenny (SBS) and Hello (SBS).  Needless to say, the musical performances, although all of them are mimed, are the most interesting scenes in both films.  A case in point, the earliest known Slik appearance on film...

 
"The Boogiest Band in Town" (1975) was Slik's debut single and as the clip clearly demonstrates, the familiar, later image of short hair and baseball shirts was still someways off.  The single flopped, and a year or so later the Arrows also had a crack at it, albeit with similarly underwhelming results.
The late Dave Mount, drummer of MUD, had a starring role in "Side By Side" and really holds his own compared to some of the "real" actors appearing alongside him.
 
 
Likewise, singer Stephanie de Sykes ("Born With A Smile On My Face") had an acting role in "Side By Side", where she also performs her signature song, while former Herman Hermit Peter Noone made a bizarre cameo in "Never Too Young To Rock", which served little or any evident purpose to the overall plot (or lack thereof) of said film.
Plot wise - as if that matters any - "Side By Side" has little more going for it.  Centering around feuding night club owners, there's aplenty opportunity for both music and mayhem.  Kenny makes an appearance, and so does Hello...
 

 
"Never Too Young To Rock", on the other hand, is set in the none too distant future where Rock 'N' Roll has been banned.  So, secretly a savior is sent (by exactly whom isn't made entirely clear) in something resembling an old ice cream van, roaming the English country side in search of MUD, The Glitter Band, The Rubettes, and others in order to stage a big Rock concert.  
Aside from the Slik clip, the concert-cum-finale part of the film is also the most riveting bit in it.  There, MUD, The Glitter Band, and The Rubettes stage a Battle-of-the-bands style show where each band performs a couple of its biggest hits before they are all joined together on stage for a fun romp through the title track of the film. 
 
 

Although the overall artistic and/or cinematic value of these films is, at best, questionable it's nice to see them finally easily available as officially issued DVD's (They've both been around as bootlegs for years) to enjoy in the privacy and tranquility of one's home.  Next up then - hopefully - the 1980 car racing film "Burning Rubber" featuring the music of - and starring - the Bay City Rollers...
 

 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Buster - "Best & New"

 
It has been nearly five years since the fantastic Japanese re-issue label Airmail Recordings honoured us with the outstanding treatment the three proper Buster albums deserved - including rare, unreleased and fascinating bonus tracks, et al.  At the time, they only excluded Buster's fourth LP, "Diary - The Best of", from said treatment.  However, this past January they more than made up for that exclusion by releasing the double "Best & New" CD, which, as its title suggests, not only contains an ample helping of Buster's best, but also 10 recently recorded tracks by one of Liverpool's finest exports. 
Sadly, guitarist Pete Leay didn't live to see this release come to full fruition, since he died under somewhat mysterious circumstances on Boxing Day last year.  Apparently, two men are being held, suspected of contributing to his untimely death.
 
Disc 1 ("Best") features 20 tracks in (almost) chronological order, culled from all four Buster LP's, bookended by a short "interview" - more like an introduction-cum-Christmas greetings - from 1978.
OK, one is nearly never 100% OK with compilations such as these, and since I don't care too much for the Live album, I think the three tracks included from that record don't really gel and seem out of place here...although, of course, that album should somehow be represented here.  Similarly, some of the single B-sides/weaker album tracks ("Judy", "If It's Love", "But If It Happens") don't add a whole lot to the mix.  But it is nice to finally get early B-side "Salt Lake City - Silver Gun" on CD.  For some odd reason it was omitted from the CD release of the first album back in 2008.  Nonetheless, some of Buster's best material is missing.  For instance, the majestic "We Love Girls" from the first album, and "Goodbye Paradise" and "Lovebreaker" from "Buster 2".  That being said, these sort of things are always a matter of opinion and this just happens to be mine.
 
Disc 2 ("New") features 10 spanking new recordings by the original line-up of Rob Fennah, Kevin Roberts, Les Brians and Pete Leay - their first new recordings since 1978.  All are original compositions (Mostly by Rob), aside from a cover of a Genesis (!!) song, "For Absent Friends".
Certainly, the one song here that sounds most like the Buster of old, is actually an old Buster song.  "Wish I was Young Again", in spite of its title, was written and demoed way back in 1977/78, and as such first appeared as a bonus track on the CD issue of "Buster 2" in 2008.  Here, properly recorded and a bit reminscent of a sparsely produced E.L.O. song - If such a thing exists, it is a definitive highlight and it would have had an obvious hit potential only had it been issued all those years ago.
Opener "Here Comes the Bride" is a catchy Power Pop gem from the pen of Rob Fennah, while the late Pete Leay's "Juliette" is pleasant mid tempo Pop. 
For some reason there's a hidden non-Buster track stitched onto album's closer "Rock & Roll Girl".  Which wouldn't nessecarily be a bad thing wouldn't it be so completely different in sound and style to the rest of the album.  It's a Rap song, ladies and gentlemen.  Most likely by Paul Leay, Pete's son, although that certainly doesn't explain/excuse this severe lack in judgement on someone's behalf.  After all, there's a time and a place for everything and, as the kids say, IMHO this Rap thing has no place on this otherwise fine album.  Again, it's a matter of opinion and this just happens to be mine.
But if you're a Buster fan, as I am, don't let that defer you from purchasing this product.  It completes the collection.   
3 *** Out of 5
 
 
 
See also: BUSTER

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Joe Le Taxi.

A short e-chat with Giuseppe "Joe" de Biase from TAXI.
(Via several e-mails Jan./Feb. 2014)
 
TAXI 1977.
 
The name?
I came up with the name TAXI, ‘cause we had one hour to decide between Dingo or Platipuss.  I  think TAXI is a lot better, don’t you?  Didn't get a penny for that either...
How did you guys ever become involved with the Mueller/Hunt/Frechter trinity?
Mueller was part of the MCA company, he ploughed money into the band.  And the other guys were part of the package, we had no choice.  We were just interested in recording records and playing live shows, for us it was heaven (and) we didn’t take any notice about the financial side.  It was a big mistake, but what to expect from seventeen and eighteen year old lads who have just got a recording contract?  It was great fun for us, but the music buissnes has a real bad side to it. You never get a good slice of the cake.  I remember my first pay cheque from the records we sold; it cost more to change the bloody thing.  (I) think that explains quite a lot..
Were you allowed to play on the records?
Yes, we were allowed to play on the records, apart from some dubbing of violins and other added instruments which we didn’t like.  But like I said, we had no choice.  We did get ripped off good and proper, but we were kids.  It’s a shame because you get used in a real bad way.
I think the first few bars of “Gonna be a Star” sound a lot like the beginning of “Holidays in the Sun” by the Sex Pistols.  Was that intentional?
No, I don’t think so, ‘cause I don’t even know the Sex Pistols song.
I saw an early photo of the band playing a Polish pub with an accordion (!) player.  Is that how you guys startet out?
Yes, that’s how we started many years ago.  I was nine or ten when my brother wanted to learn to play guitar and my dad wanted me to play the squeeze box (acordion).  It took off from there.  We did (play) a lot of the clubs later up and down England, British legions, labour clubs.  I was thinking of writing a book.  You never know, I may do (that).
I was wondering why your records weren't released in England...or elsewhere (except for Germany, that is)? I think for instance Japan would've loved TAXI.
Yes, it would have been great to go to Japan, I think things would have taken off.  Also if we would have gone to Italy, being all Italian decents it would have created interest.  I really think that the management were very mediocre.  All I can say it was a real shame.  We had our hearts set on making it.  When we were gigging up and down England that's all we ever talked about, tours, making records, fans.  No talk about money, just playing.  Like all bands, it’s just the same old story.  At the end you get it where it hurts most.  (I’ve) seen many weird goings on while in Germany after the concerts.  Sometimes I’d just get a taxi and go back to the hotel.  Some nice experiences as well.  When you would see a dedicated fan turn up to quite a lot of the concerts and have no money to get back home I would help with money so she could get the train, bus or whatever to get back home.
Like so many teen bands at the time (Kenny, Buster, Slik, Rosetta Stone, etc.) TAXI was clearly touted as the "Next Bay City Rollers". Did that ever bug you?
Yes, there was talk about us being the next Bay City Rollers, (but) like I said before we didn’t think much of what the press or whoever had to say.  All we wanted to do was play on stage.
Am I maybe confusing you with another band from circa '77, but didn't Linda McCartney photograph TAXI for the German teen magazine Pop?
Yes, Linda McCartney did photograph us at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley.  We were recording and Paul McCartney was recording (there) too.  I actually got to see Paul and got his autograph.  (It was a) great experience.
By the last album, “I’m the One” (1979), the Polcaro brothers and Ross Burgess had left the band and Steve Clarke (Bass) and an unknown (His name?) drummer had joined. This left only you and your brother Paul/Paolo as the only remaining original members of the band. Was that the beginning of the end for TAXI?
When Phil and Pasquale left, yes, I can honestly say it was the end.  There was a lot of friction with the band, no money, not getting anywhere.  I don’t want to talk about the other guys who replaced Phil, Pasquale and Ross.
I would love to see other pictures of the band.  Any ideas how to go about finding them?
  
TAXI 1979.
 
So if anyone out there happens to have any photographs/magazine clippings of TAXI, please do write in and share them with us.  Many thanks!
 
 
See also: TAXI

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pete Leay (Buster) R.I.P.

 
Peter Robert Leay, April 4. 1959 - December 26. 2013.
 
Guitarist Pete Leay, best known as a member of '70s Teen Pop Band Buster, has died.  He was 54 years old.
Recently, the four original members of Buster came together for the first time in 35 years to record ten new tracks to be included on a double "Best & New" Japanese CD compilation which will be released later this month.  Watch this space.
R.I.P., Pete.
 
 
 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The '70s Teen Pop (Re) Release of 2013.

 
Including at least an album's worth of top-notch unissued material, The Paley Brothers' "The Complete Recordings" (Real Gone Music) is truly a treasure trove.  But not entirely without its rarities and oddities, since, for starters, it seemingly contains a COMPLETELY different mix of the Paleys sole album release from 1978.  And, in theory, this was supposed to be the long-awaited re-issue of that very album!  Well, never mind.  I, at least, got over that fact fairly fast.
 

Influenced by Spector, Wilson, Everlys, et al, for better or worse brothers Jonathan and Andy Paley always wore their musical hearts on their their collective sleeve.  Much like the Rubinoos, they just seemed a bit out of place and time during the angst-ridden late '70s - although there certainly were other acts around (for instance Blondie) at the time which sought obvious inspiration from the more innocent sounds of the late '50s and the early '60s.
Furthermore, Andy's work as an up-and-coming songwriter and producer for other acts (As early as 1977, he worked on an unreleased material with the Shangri-Las for chrissakes!) also seemed to interfere with the natural progression of the Paley Brothers as a proper performing and recording act in their own right.  But "The Complete Recordings" clearly shows they had the material as well as the chops to succeed in that area.
Among the unreleased gems included in the collection is "Boomerang" (Featuring future Andy Paley collaborator Brian Wilson on backing vocals), the Phil Spector-produced "Baby Let's Stick Together" (A cover of the 1976 single Spector did with Dion), as well as a couple of exciting excerpts from their now legendary warm-up slot for Shaun Cassidy at the Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1978.

 
The rarities are nothing to sneeze at either.  With The Ramones (Minus Joey, who was sick in the hospital) the Paleys recorded a cover of the Ritchie Valens classic "Come on Let's Go" for the "Rock & Roll High School" soundtrack, and under the nom de plume The Young Jacques, the brothers (with a little help from a few of The Cars) did the irresistible one-off surf single "Jacques Cousteau" in 1979.

 
Further high points include previously unissued originals such as set opener "Here Comes My Baby", and track number 2, "Meet the Invisible Man" - both done in the Paleys' exemplary early '60s pop meets late '70s power pop style - not to mention the previously mentioned remix of the Paley Brothers first and only proper LP, plus its adjoining singles.
Without a doubt, the (re)issue of the year!
 
One helluva session!  From L to R: Darlene Love; Phil Spector; Joey Ramone; Andy and Jonathan Paley.
 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rick Springfield's Beginnings.

 
Although Australian singer-songwriter Rick Springfield will always be best remembered for infectious early '80s pop-rock hits like "Jessie's Girl", "Don't Talk to Strangers" and "Love Somebody", he was by no means a newcomer to the scene during his massive '80s success.
A major star in his homeland since the late '60s, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Bon Scott (Later of AC/DC) and Darryl Cotton (Later of Cotton, Lloyd & Christian), young Rick initially hit it big Stateside as early as 1972, when his first solo smash, "Speak to the Sky", made the U.S. Top 20.
 
 
The adjoined album "Beginnings", which was recorded in England, however failed to repeat this initial success, and so did the follow-up single "What Would the Children Think?".
 

 
Capitol, Rick's record company tried to promote him as the new David Cassidy.  Trouble is, though, he wasn't.  The completely self-penned "Beginnings" contained some serious lyrics about divorce, suicide and homosexuality - not exactly your typical teen fodder.  Still, his handsome mug was all over 16 magazine and Tiger Beat.
The critical backlash was inevitable and Rick struggled for the rest of the decade to present himself as the ambitious and serious artist he claimed to be.  "Beginnings" was a flawed but fine debut which deserved better.
 
 
Rick's rather recent biography "Late, Late at Night" is a riveting read covering his 40 plus years in the music industry.  The highs, the lows, the sex, the drugs, the Rock and Roll.
His reoccurring bouts with both depression and sex addiction - hence the heavy title - are also well and truly documented.
 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Child


When you google "Child 70s band", one of the top results you get is this question posted on a site called doyouremember.co.uk some time back: Does anyone remember the 70's pop group called Child, there were good looking twins called Tim and Keith Atack in it, nobody seems to remember them.
Although a few years have passed since the question in, err, question was posted, nothing much seems to have changed in regards to info on Child on the world-wide-web.  Sure, there are sites like discogs.com, which list all of their records and many of their T.V. appearances can now be found on YouTube - thanks, it seems, largely to a certain someone very close to one of the band's members.
As for finding any of their music in digital form, the story is pretty much the same.  In spite of the fact that the band had three U.K. Top 40 hits in the late '70s, at a time when teen acts were scarcely seen on the charts, not even their sole Top 10 success and artistic nadir, 1978's "It's Only Make Believe", can be easily found anywhere today.  To the best of my knowledge, it was last heard on CD twenty years ago, when it popped up on EMI's budget MFP compilation "20 Songs of Love from the 70's". 
 
 
Formed in Yorkshire, England, in the mid '70s, Child first consisted of Graham Bilbrough (Vocals); Dave Cooper (Guitar) and twins Keith (Bass) and Tim (Drums) Atack.  
By early 1978, before the band signed a deal with Ariola Hansa, Cooper had left and was replaced with bassist Mike McKenzie (Formerly of Pat McGlynn's Scotties) while Keith Atack switched to guitar.  It was this line-up which enjoyed a short-lived and, by some, fondly remembered success in 1978/1979.
However, Child's first single, a surprisingly "heavy" (Compared to their later output) cover of Scottish rocker's Alex Harvey's "River of Love" was issued on the indie imprint BUK Records in the summer of 1976. 
"Maybe Baby Someday" became another BUK-released single in September of the same year.  Needless to say, in spite of some teen magazine and T.V. coverage, chart success eluded both efforts.
 


The third single, "What's a Nice Girl Like You", appeared on another indie label, Pentagon Records, in April 1977.  Around the same time Child's debut, self-titled, Long-Player was released.  At least in Germany.  My research hasn't, as of yet, unearthed a U.K. release of this rarity.  However, if anyone has any info whatsoever, do not hesitate to share it with the rest of the class.
The band seems to have taken a break from recording for the next year until, that is, they popped up again on Ariola Hansa in March '78, with their first chart hit (U.K. #38) - a passable cover of the Jackie DeShannon classic "When You Walk in the Room".
 
 
And during that summer they enjoyed their biggest hit, the aforementioned "It's Only Make Believe" - a cover of a song Conway Twitty first popularized twenty years previously.
The oddly entitled "The First Album" - seeing since it was their SECOND album - was then unleashed in order to capitalize on this sudden change of fortune.  The slow ballad "Still the One", the third Ariola Hansa single, however failed to chart in the autumn of 1978.
 

In April of 1979, Child's last chart hit, "Only You" - a cover of the Platters tune, was issued and peaked at #33 in the U.K. charts.
Followed by third L.P. "Total Recall", which consisted only of the tried and true; covers of songs from the '50s and the '60s ("It's Only Make Believe" and its B-side, Carole King's "It Might As Well Rain Until September" even made a re-appearance), it was a weak and unimaginative effort, thrown together in a last ditch attempt to cash in on something that really wasn't there anymore.  Regretfully, the record just reeks of contractual fulfillment.
Still, a couple of more singles were culled from it; the least worst of which was the non-LP B-side "Caroline and Me".
Not surprisingly then, the hits - as well as the inspiration - having dried up, Child seem to have split up in 1980.

In the early '80s, the Atack twins popped up on Limo Records, the same label as Rosetta Stone recorded for at the time, with a couple of well-meaning, albeit out of time - and touch - Teenpop single releases (See discography below).  Too little, too late.
They then toured with an assortment of artists, such as Bonnie Tyler and Rick Astley, before Keith formed the Illegal Eagles, an Eagles tribute band of all things, while Tim ventured into film soundtrack work, where he is today a moderately successful artist having composed music for a couple of Ricky Gervais's films, and then some.
Original guitarist Dave Cooper currently plies his trade in cover band Coast - "Yorkshire's Premier Pop Rock Band."
Singer Graham Bilbrough still records and performs under the name of Ricky Graham.  Several of his somewhat recent performances can be seen and heard on YouTube.
Mike McKenzie - a motorcycle enthusiast - is still around, although I am not quite sure in what exact musical capacity these days.  I know after his tenure with Child he briefly rejoined his old pal Pat McGlynn in the early '80s, but since then....who knows?  I managed to contact him a couple of years ago, and after an initially positive response to my inquiries regarding the overall story of Child, I didn't hear from him again.  The same can be said of my efforts trying to stalk Tim Atack.
So, if anyone close to the band - not to mention band members themselves - are ready, willing and able to shed some much-needed light on the history of Child - a '70s band - by all means, please do.... 

Child Discography:

Singles:


"River of Love"/"Too Late to Say Goodbye" (BUK 3000)  June 1976, U.K.
"Maybe Baby Someday"/"Rock & Roll Singer" (BUK 3009)  September 1976, U.K.
"Back in the U.S.S.R"   I can not find any evidence of this being a single, although it was performed on The Seaside Special, a British T.V. show, in 1976.  In fact, it doesn't seem to have been released at all.


"What's a Nice Girl Like You"/"Sad One-Sided Love Affair" (Pentagon, PENT1)  April 1977, U.K.
"When You Walk in the Room"/"Stay With Me" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 511)  March 1978, U.K.  Chart position #38


"It's Only Make Believe"/"It Might As Well Rain Until September" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 522)  June 1978, U.K.  Chart pos. #10


"Still the One"/"Honky Tonk Lady" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 528)  November 1978, U.K.
"Only You (And You Alone)"/"Loves Away" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 536)  April 1979, U.K. Chart #33
"Yummy Yummy Yummy"/"Only You" (Hansa, 44857)  1979, Germany.


"Here Comes Summer"+"I Can't Explain" (Medley)/"Caroline and Me" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 545)  July 1979, U.K.
"The Shape I'm In"/"Where Would We Go" (Ariola Hansa, AHA 553)  November 1979, U.K.

Albums:
 
 
"Child" (Honeybee Records/Bellaphon, BEE 44004)  1977 Germany.  U.K. issue?
 

 "The First Album" (Ariola Hansa, AHALH 8008)  1978 U.K.
 

 "Total Recall" (Ariola Hansa, AHALH 8010)  1979 U.K.



 
Atack Discography:
 
Singles:

 "Don't You Believe in Magic"/"We've Come to Know" (Limo, LIMO4)  1981, U.K.
 "Don't Wind Me Up"/"Take 'em Back" (Limo, LIMO8)  1982, U.K.

Album:

"1"  * Quite possibly by another band, also known as Atack.


 
Thank you Einar Rafn Guðbrandsson :-)