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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

dEAd ENd KIdS - Revisited.

A few months ago I wrote a little piece (See here) on Scottish late ‘70s Teen Pop act Dead End Kids.  Today they are chiefly remembered for their sole U.K. top 10 hit, “Have I the Right”.  Typical one hit wonders, then.  Well, not quite.  They also recorded one rather decent LP which, I believe, would’ve done considerably better had it been issued in ’75 or ’76 rather than, as it were, in 1977.  By then the big Teen Pop – or Teenybop, as it was termed at the time - backlash was well and truly underway, mainly due to the arrival of Punk, and as a result many fine Teen Pop acts (Buster was another one) didn’t stand a fighting chance - in Europe at least.

As I’ve touched upon a time or two before in this blog, it can be mighty hard to find any substantial info on some of these acts on the otherwise almighty Internet, so some of the pieces I’ve written here are more often than not thought of as mere drafts – works-in-progress, if you will - which are to be improved upon as time goes by.  And since the main purpose of this blog is to provide more info on often otherwise “forgotten” artists, I frequently call upon the

One such person who recently got in contact with me is one Brian McClung, a former roadie for aforementioned Teen Pop act Dead End assistance of you people out there in cyberspace.Kids, and via a series of e-mails he was kind and patient enough to answer some of my questions.
An e-interview with former Dead End Kids roadie Brian McClung:

Can you tell me anything about the origins of the band?

The boys all came from different towns around Ayr Scotland.  That is on the west coast.

Ricky (Squires) from Ayr.
Colin (Ivory) from Ayr on guitar.
Robbie (Gray) on vocals Kilmarnock.
Davey (Johnston) from Prestwick on piano.
Alistair (Kerr) from Kilwinning on bass.

Alistair, Davey and Robbie with two other guys started a group called Vehicle.
(The) two guys left and it just happened that they got some bookings from an agency in Glasgow.  The owner of the agency also owned a club in Glasgow (Colin Robertson).

You will hear different stories but the truth is the manager of the club was a friend of the Bay City Rollers manager (Tam Paton).
He told him to get a band together and he would put them on tour with the Rollers.
So the guys got Ricky and Colin who they all knew from the music scene.
That's how they started.
They needed a roadie and Ricky gave me a call and that was how it started.

They toured with the Rollers for a few dates, but the fans for the (Dead End) Kids were louder than the Rollers and their manager did not like this so they were kicked off the tour.

Fortunately they were seen by a CBS rep and were signed up.

And the madness begins.

DEK manager Colin Robertson, can you tell me something about him?  Was he as scary as I've heard?

Yes he was very hard!!!!  Colin was very much a gangster, a nice guy but you had to watch what you said around him.
He was a typical manager, he paid for everything and the band was paid a wage.
When the band got bigger they needed a new PA system and he bought a new one, custom made.

He had a lot of bouncers, etc. working for him at his club and acting as security for the band and the road crew.
We never had to worry about getting into fights or anybody giving us a hard time,
we just told the security and it was all taken care of.

The DEK LP was produced by Barry Blue.  Did the guys play their own instruments on the record?

As (for) playing their instruments, yes they did but as is normal a few other people would help.
Fun fact: the drum sound did not sound right so Barry helped by playing the top of a hard stool with his hand.

Do you think there's any unreleased DEK material in the vaults?

I very much doubt it as it was very expensive at the time to go into a recording studio and record songs.
It could take a week or so to record a single to everybody's satisfaction.
Another thing a lot of people do not realize is that when a group wants to put out a single it is often best to release a song written by a recognized song writer. Lots of really good bands are useless at writing songs.
So what happens is managers get tapes from different writers.  I remember we listened to loads and loads of tapes all the time when we were travelling to see if anything took our fancy. In the end a song was chosen by Barry Blue and Colin (Robertson).  Nobody really liked it, I hated it, but the powers that be made the decisions.

On YouTube there are clips of the boys from TV shows all over Europe (England, Germany, Holland.) Where did they enjoy most popularity?

As for the tours when I worked with them, Germany and Holland were in the weeks before I started working with them. You will notice on YouTube one place they recorded a local TV show all the go-go dancers were topless. I missed that but fun was had everywhere else.

Just when the second single came out there was a lot of interest from Japan but when the single was a flop interest dropped in Japan. We were all looking forward to going to Japan but it was not to be.
I think that had the second single been a hit they would have been huge in Japan.
But they were huge in Britain and Ireland.
Fun fact: when the band got to the airport in Germany to come home the drummer could not be found. Everyone came home without him and security had to stay and try to find him. They eventually found him; he was sleeping with the wife of the head of CBS Germany while he was showing the rest of the band around Germany.

Yeah, THAT clip of DEK and the topless dancers is pretty wild. It seems to be from German TV (Musik Laden). Perhaps DEK didn't know their performance would be intercut like that, but I still can't imagine another teen band of the era ever doing something like that.

They did know about the topless dancers as I remember them telling me about them.  They were all shocked, especially wee Colin as he was only 15 years old at the time.

It was never shown in Britain.  Remember Germany and other European countries were much more open about things like that.

Looking at the DEK album cover, their visual image took cues from both Punk and Teen Pop.  Was that, you think, a conscious decision or just a sign of the times?

Here is an interesting fact: punk music was a manufactured sound by the record companies, CBS being (one of) the first ones to get the ball rolling. They approached DEK and (their) management and proposed that DEK be promoted as the first punk band, which was declined.  I kid you not.

I must tell you the music you have heard from them was (their) management’s idea, live they were a shit hot band and played many heavier songs such as (covers of) Queen (songs) and a great cover of “The Wanderer”.

Another fun fact: DEK were signed (to CBS) the same day as Judas Priest and both (bands) recorded music at the same studio at the (same) time.  I remember giving them our records and them giving us theirs.  I say this because I thought both bands sounded alike live.

I have seen them (Judas Priest) many times over here (in Canada) and they still are very good.

When/why did DEK break-up?  What did they do afterwards?  Where are they now?

I do not know when they broke up, but I would guess around 1980.

Davey worked in electronics.  Ricky still played in bands.  I will find out some information about him and let you know. Colin played in wedding bands. 
As did Alistair and his daughters I heard.  Robbie works as a civil servant, I think for the health service.

What are you up to nowadays? Do you live in Scotland still?

I now live in Toronto Canada.  I have done so since 1979.  I am married for 31 years with 2 kids and 2 grandkids.  I have not seen any of the guys since 1979 when I came to Canada.
"Breakaway", that fateful 2nd dEK (flop) 45.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shaun Cassidy ...on CD.

(An independent continuation of the earlier blog, Shaun Cassidy ...on Record)
Well, the verdict is in...
Disappointingly, all six CD's are cheaply made so-called "semi-CDR's".  On top of that, no bonus material; session outtakes, demos, unissued live version and the like.
In fact, as each album is no longer than 35 minutes, there's plenty room to release those as three "two-fers" (two albums on 1 CD) instead of six whole CD's.  Approx. 80 minutes of music fits onto 1 CD.
Rip-off, then?  Well, sort of.  But beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.
It's good to have all the albums finally out on CD and there does seem to have been some sort of sound-restoration (remastering, I guess) done in the process, although the sound level is unusually low for CD's - or "semi-CDR's" - made in 2012.
Next up then, a proposed proper "Best of" Shaun Cassidy, to replace that inadequate and incomplete "Greatest Hits" from 20 years ago? 

Da Doo Ron Ron 2:49 From Shaun Cassidy ('77)
Morning Girl 2:37 From Shaun Cassidy ('77)
It's Too Late 2:44 From Shaun Cassidy ('77)
That's Rock 'N' Roll 2:54 From Shaun Cassidy ('77)
Holiday 3:07 From Shaun Cassidy ('77)
Teen Dream 2:37 From Born Late ('77)
Do You Believe In Magic 2:20 From Born Late ('77)
It's Up To You 2:27 From Born Late ('77)
Hey Deanie 3:42 From Born Late ('77)
A Girl Like You 2:58 From Born Late ('77)
Walk Away 3:15 From Born Late ('77)
Carolina's Comin' Home 2:29 From Born Late ('77)
Hard Love 3:44 From Under Wraps ('78)
Taxi Dancer 3:02 From Under Wraps ('78)
It's Like Heaven 3:11 From Under Wraps ('78)
Our Night 4:14 From Under Wraps ('78)
Fallin' Into You 4:43 From Room Service ('79)
Time For A Change 3:20 From Room Service ('79)
Are You Afraid Of Me? 3:55 From Room Service ('79)
Break For The Street 4:28 From Room Service ('79)
Cool Fire 4:21 From Wasp ('80)
The Book I Read 3:40 From Wasp ('80)
So Sad About Us 3:08 From Wasp ('80)
One Bitten, Twice Shy 4:12 From Wasp ('80)      
All the (obvious) hits, some self-penned stuff ("Teen Dream", "It's Up to You", "Taxi Dancer", "Break for the Street", "Cool Fire" -  Arguably, Shaun was/is? a better songwriter than his big bro, with all due respect) as well as all those excellent almost-obscure covers ("It's Too Late", "Carolina's Coming Home", "It's Like Heaven") - they're all there.  Mike Curb, again I appeal to you...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rock and Roll Love Letters

OK, for those interested I have another blog, "Rock & Roll Love Letters", going.
It deals with a more "wider scope" of music than this one, but is of no less importance and interest to me.
If interested, click here and you will be there ;-)
My latest installment deals with the very interesting (mainly) '70s phenomenon of Nederpop.
Hope to "see" you there!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shaun Cassidy ...on Record.

There was a public outcry.  Or at least a Facebook petition.  But at long last, as of this past spring (2012),  Shaun Cassidy's complete back catalogue is now available on the very nearly obsolete format that is a Compact Disc.  Better late than never!  My good old vinyl never looked - or sounded - so fine.  Alas, the time for a reappraisal is ripe...

With his family tree as it is (Son of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, half-brother of David), clearly Shaun was poised for some kind of stardom from the very beginning.
After having begun his career in local L.A. bands such as Longfellow in the early to mid '70s, industry veteran Mike Curb had the good sense to sign him as a solo act to his Curb Records on a licensing deal to Warner Brothers.
Long-time Curb-collaborator Michael Lloyd, then fresh off his work with the Osmonds, was  assigned as a producer of the project and the ball was rolling...
Europe was used as a platform for launching the potential new star.  Seemingly, as early as late 1975 debut single "Morning Girl", a fine cover of the Neon Philharmonic's quite unique sole 1969 hit, was a hit in the Netherlands.
The summer of '76 then saw the European release of 2nd single, a cover of Eric Carmen's excellent "That's Rock 'n' Roll".  The debut album, also entitled "That's Rock 'n' Roll" was then also issued in Europe.
Around the same time Shaun's acting career also took off in America with his role as Joe Hardy on "The Hardy Boys" mysteries TV show.  Thus, the time was deemed right for the release of his U.S. debut, the single "Da Doo Ron Ron", a cover of the Crystals Spector/Greenwich/Barry classic from 1963.
It swiftly secured the no. 1 slot on the Billboard Top 100 and a star was (briefly) born. 
A self-titled album soon followed; but apart from the sleeve design and the title it was the very same LP as had been issued earlier in Europe.
Mostly made up of covers such as the aforementioned singles, it also contains Shaun's very own composition "Holiday", as well as a couple of Michael Lloyd originals.  Goffin/King's "Take Good Care of My Baby" and "Be My Baby", another Spector/Greenwich/Barry classic, were also aired.  But, best of all perhaps, is a cover of a relatively obscure Bobby Goldsboro tune (at least outside the U.S. of A.), "It's Too Late"....
Overall, the album has aged rather well.  I hadn't listened to it in years and as much as I love the original of "Da Doo Ron Ron", I seemed to recall that Shaun's cover was rather dreadful in comparison.  But it really isn't.  It's just very 1977 sounding - nothing more, nothing less.  It has a faint disco beat and it is very understandable why it became the big that it was. However, Shaun himself later said: ""Da Doo Ron Ron" I have a real hard time with, because I just love the Crystals' version of the record and I love Phil Spector's records.  I think that mine sounds very bland in comparison." (from Barry Scott's "We Had Joy, We Had Fun", 1994 Faber and Faber)
Preceeded by perhaps Shaun's finest hour, another Eric Carmen-penned single "Hey Deanie", his second album, "Born Late" (1977) is also, in all probability, his best LP.

Not only were the originals getting a lot better (Album opener "Teen Dream", "It's Up to You" and the very excellent "Walk Away", in particular), but covers such as the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" (a #31 single hit for Shaun), the Young Rascals' "A Girl Like You", and not to mention the White Plains' slightly more obscure "Carolina's Comin' Home" were a bit more inspired than the Spector/Goffin/King stuff from the first album.
Album number 3, "Under Wraps", appeared in 1978. 

The self-penned opener "Hard Love", a rather decent "Hey Deanie" re-write, wasn't even issued as a single in the U.S.  Instead, Warners opted for the more predictable - and bland - "Our Night" by the more established songwriting pair of Carole Bayer Sager & Bruce Roberts.  It stalled at #80 on the Billboard Top 100 and became Shaun Cassidy's last charting single in his homeland.  In Europe, though, "Hard Love" became the lead-off single.

The rest of the record consisted of the by now true and tested formula of covers and originals alike.  Of the former, "It's Like Heaven", a Brian Wilson/Diane Rovell/Rushtyn Pamphlin composition originally made for American Spring in the early '70s, was a stand-out, while the aforementioned "Hard Love" and "Taxi Dancer" were in strong evidence of the latter. 

But overall, this record was a drop in quality and clearly aimed at a "maturing" audience - ALWAYS a risky proposition in the world of '70s Teenpop.  After all, this was years before George Michael and Robbie Williams...

"Room Service" (1979) offered more of the same, albeit more focused and thought-out.
It's somewhat surprising how much control Shaun seems to have obtained by this time in his short career.  He has a hand in five out of the nine tracks here.  Rather unusual for teen idols of that time.
The "mature" theme here persists, but the material overall is better than on the previous record.  Nonetheless, an "obvious" single is hard to spot.  Therefore, once more, different cuts were initially chosen for single releases in the U.S. ("You're Usin' Me") and Europe (the Bee Gees-like "Are You Afraid of Me").  Strange, though, that the perhaps strongest cut here, "Break for the Street", wasn't one of them...
Usually, when an artist's career is in a dire straits, there are two ways out: either the "Greatest Hits" solution or the ever-classic throw-them-to the-lions "Live" album answer.  In Shaun's case, the latter was chosen as his next release.
"Shaun Cassidy Live! That's Rock 'n' Roll" came out in late 1979 and pretty much disappeared without a trace...
A bit of an odd mixture of Shaun's biggest hits ("Hey Deanie", "That's Rock 'n' Roll" and "Da Doo Ron Ron") and Rock & Roll/oldies standards alike ("Bad Boy", "Slow Down", "Rip it Up" - none of which had been previously recorded by Shaun), it comes off as a rather unconvincing and uninteresting effort from someone who (perhaps) clearly couldn't care less anymore...
Rather recently I accidentally obtained a German white label test pressing copy of this album.  It came with a proposed first tracklisting which I have scanned here below...
Unfortunately, though, the record itself was the same as it ever paraphrase Talking Heads. 
OK, for better or for worse, but we could've gotten a completely different record here.  Somewhere, someplace it must still exist.  Mike Curb, are you reading this?
"Wasp" (1980) was Shaun Cassidy's last long player and the first one without Michael Lloyd at the helm.  Instead, Shaun opted for a far more "edgy" collaborator that was Todd Rundgren.  Well, just take a one look at that cover art and you can tell there's something very different afoot.  Utopia, perhaps?

For starters, the covers here sound sublimely exotic in comparison to Shaun's earlier efforts.  David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Who and Ian Hunter are among the main culprits.
In recent years this record has started to enjoy a little something called "cult following".  Well, that in itself is just as fragile as this album.  It's a pretty "interesting" effort, and very courageous at that.  But a further collaboration between those two - Cassidy and Rundgren - possibly would've been even more daring...
But that, clearly, wasn't to be.  After "Wasp" Shaun seems to have focused his energies more on acting rather than singing.  With one small exception. 

In 1989 he teamed up with the Dutch Bolland brothers (Falco, Suzi Quatro, Samantha Fox, the authors of Status Quo's "In the Army Now" hit) and came out with the forgettable Europop single "Memory Girl" ...

Since then, Shaun has mostly focused his attention on TV-production, writing and, to a lesser degree, acting. 
In 1993, though, he teamed up with big brother David in the musical "Blood Brothers" and they took Broadway by storm.  And recorded the Broadway cast CD in the process.  The year before, (Mike) Curb Records had issued the Shaun Cassidy "Greatest Hits" CD. 
Now, nearly 20 years later, it's been followed up with the aforementioned belated Shaun Cassidy catalogue on CD reissue program. 
As I said before - and this is where we came in - better late than never....
 SHAUN CASSIDY album discography:
"That's Rock 'n' Roll" (WB 56 342) (Germany, 1977)
"Shaun Cassidy" (BS 3067) (U.S. 1977) (The same as above) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Born Late" (BSK 3126) (U.S. 1977) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Under Wraps" (BSK 3222) (U.S. 1978) (CD, Curb Records, 2012) 
"Room Service" (BSK 3351) (U.S. 1979) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Live! That's Rock 'n' Roll" (1979) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Wasp" (1980) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Greatest Hits" (1992) (CD D2-77551, Curb Records.)

SHAUN CASSIDY singles discography:

Morning Girl”/”I Wanna be With You” (Netherlands, Warner Bros., WBN 16686) (1975)


That’s Rock & Roll”/”Amblin’” (Europe, Warner Brothers) (June 1976)

Da Doo Ron Ron”/”Holiday” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8365) (1977) #1 U.S. Billboard.

That’s Rock & Roll”/”I Wanna be With You” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8423) (1977) #3.

Be My Baby”/”It’s Too Late” (West Germany, Warner Bros., WB 16958) (1977)

Hey Deanie”/”Strange Sensation” (Worldwide, Warner Bros.) (1977) #7 U.S.

Carolina’s Comin’ Home”/”Strange Sensation” (U.K., Warner Bros., K17077) (1977)

Do You Believe in Magic”/”Teen Dream” (Worldwide, Warner Bros.) (1977) #31 U.S.
Our Night”/”Right Before Your Skies” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8634) (1978) #80 U.S.

Hard Love”/”Right Before Your Skies” (U.K., WB, K17296) (1978)

 (Also issued as picture discs: 7” (K17296P) and a 12” (K17296PT)).

Hard Love”/”She’s Right” (West Germany, Warner Bros., WB 17278) (1978)

Midnight Sun”/”She’s Right” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8698) (1978)

You’re Usin’ Me”/”You Still Surprise Me” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8859) (1979)

Are You Afraid of Me”/”You Still Surprise Me” (Netherlands, Warner B, WB 17452) (1979)

"A Star Beyond Time" (Love Theme from "Star Trek")/"Heaven in Your Eyes" (Japan Warner Bros., WB P-541W) (1979)

Rebel, Rebel”/”Cool Fire” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 49568) (1980)

So Sad About Us” (Stereo)/”So Sad About Us” (Mono) (PROMO U.S., WBS 49640) (1981)

Memory Girl”/”Memory Girl” (Instrumental) (West Germany, Polydor, 889 864-7) (1989)

 (Also issued as a 12” Single (889 865-1), CD-Maxi (889 865-2) and a CD Single (889 864-3)  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Michael Lloyd

Having produced (and written for) the Osmonds, Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy, Michael Lloyd is a seminal figure in the annals of '70s Teen pop.  Along with co-culprit Mike Curb, he was the force behind the recorded output of all of the aforementioned acts during their '70s heyday.
The story, however, begins much earlier...

Born November 3, 1948 in New York, Michael Jeffrey Lloyd was something of a musical wunderkind.  At the age of four he was already studying classical piano and by the age of twelve he had started his own band. 
Often described as a "Multi-instrumentalist", early on he also took a keen interest in arranging, producing, writing...basically anything to do with the art of music-making.
Sometime during the mid '60s, teenager Lloyd ran into one Mike Curb, who via his label Tower Records (no, not that one) was churning out cheap quickie soundtracks for American International Pictures' B-movies like "Riot on the Sunset Strip" and "Psych Out".  Lloyd was soon enough working on these and, in the process, began mastering the art of scoring films.  A couple of years later, in 1968, he even wrote the score for Steven Spielberg's first proper film, the short "Amblin'".  The title track, a slice of melancholy sunshine pop, is actually rather lovely.  A vastly inferior Shaun Cassidy cover version from the '70s also exists.
Spielberg later named his production company Amblin Entertainment after the film.

Lloyd was also a founding member of the wonderfully weird West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.  The story of this band just beggars belief and I defy anyone even remotely interested to become aquainted with it HERE   It's a richly rewarding read.  And so, by the way, is some of WCPAEB's music, although it is a far cry from most of the material Michael Lloyd became associated with later on in his long and lustrous career.

By the late '60s Lloyd's old friend Mike Curb had become president of MGM Records where - infamously - he made it his first order of business to "clean house", ie by getting rid of some of that label's artists who he felt had too strong of a connection to the "drug culture" of the day.  Incidentally that included some of the more "critically credible" artists on MGM's roster, namely the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.  Somewhat odd seeing how Curb had had close connections to the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and their circle of friends and associates which counted the likes of notorious scenester (or shyster - take your pick) Kim Fowley.  But maybe the fact that Curb had political aspirations within the Republican party had a little something to do with said decision.
Whatever, Curb quickly brought his old pal Lloyd, then only 20 years old, into MGM as a Vice President of A & R.  And thus began their successful professional relationship with the Osmonds which saw the syblings become one of the biggest acts of the '70s.


In spite of that, Lloyd still harbored ambitions as a recording artist himself, not merely content with staying behind the scenes.  So by 1975 he had formed the trio Cotton, Lloyd & Christian, along with Australian Darryl Cotton, who at one point had been in a group with fellow Aussie Rick Springfield, and Texan singer/songwriter Chris Christian.  I just recently came across CLC's debut self-titled LP on 20th Century Records and it ain't half bad.

A soft pop serenade, co-produced by Messrs Curb & Lloyd, it served as a template for near-future Lloyd productions of Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy, as well as a tribute to times gone by with the Osmonds.  At first listen I could've sworn that the album's closer "(You've Given me) Sunshine" - also issued as a single - was a then not-so-old Osmond tune.  
A ballad(!) cover of the Supremes' "Baby Love" (admittedly, not one of my fave Supremes songs) surprisingly doesn't suck and betters the original in my humble opinion.

Debut single "I Go to Pieces", a cover of Peter & Gordon's finest moment (written by Del Shannon though), became a minor hit in the U.S. as well as an almost hit in the U.K. where it stalled at no. 51 - just outside the coveted Top 50.  A year later Lloyd also chose that particular tune as Leif Garret's debut (flop) single, on 20th Century Records as well.
Arguably, and inspite of it having been covered in the late '70s by the likes of Rachel Sweet and the Ian Mitchell Band as well as Leif Garrett, CLC's version gets my vote as the ultimate '70s Teen Pop interpetation of this cool classic.


It's not all sunshine, lollipop and rainbows though.  An ill-advised "Tommy Medley" sticks out like a sore thumb and hasn't aged well to say the least.

Oddly enough, this record in its entirety, in an altogether different sleeve, was then re-issued as the soundtrack to the 1976 teen B-flick "The Pom Pom Girls".

A second CLC album, unimaginatively entitled "Number Two", appeared in 1977.

From it, the sleek Barry Manilow-like ballad "I Don't Know Why You Love Me" made minor dents in the lower regions of the U.S. charts.

By then Lloyd's career as a producer was in an upswing once more with both Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy having well and truly hit their stride, albeit briefly.  Furthermore, his production of Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" became one of the most successful worldwide singles of 1977.

But Michael Lloyd's greatest commercial success was yet to come.  In 1987 he served as a music supervisor/producer to a little film known as "Dirty Dancing".  Among the original numbers he produced for the film was this ditty...


Some of the other artists not mentioned above Lloyd has worked with over the years include Barry Manilow, Belinda Carlisle,  Dionne Warwick, The Righteous Brothers, The Monkees, Lou Rawls, Eric Carmen, Sammy Davis Jr., Air Supply, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Pointer Sisters, Donny & Marie, Merry Clayton, and Frank Sinatra, performing a special collector's version of Silent Night.

However, I can think of no more appropriate ending to this short tribute to Michael Lloyd - the producer, musician and songwriter - than West Coast Experimental Pop Band's excellent "Transparent Day".  Enjoy. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The James Boys and me.

From that very first hastily and impulsively-written Mabel piece a year and a half ago, the main purpose of this blog has been to uncover all the little known and well-hidden in the mysterious and murky world of '70s Teenpop, or at the very least to shed some much needed light upon it.
A genre obviously many are (still) interested in, but very few seem intent on seriously dealing with (even 40 years on it's perceived as kid's stuff; not really "serious" music... bubblegum.  Well, some things never change and music snobbery is one of them).  And since the feedback I've gotten has all been kind and appreciative, there most certainly seems to be a "need" for all this.  A method to my madness, if you will.
The idea came to me when I was trying to google all those wonderful acts I remembered from my youth....Buster, Kenny, Hello, Dead End Kids, Mabel...and usually came up with very little or nothing.  And there within lies the problem; all too many times I start out with only the old worn-out record lying in my lap as the only evidence this or that act ever existed.  The www. is all too often of no or little help.  This stuff has to be put up by someone in the first place in order for someone else to google it!  It just doesn't magically appear there out of thin air.
Occasionally ex-band members or someone associated with those acts is willing to help.  Admittedly, the www. is good for locating all sorts of people, but most of the time one's e-mails are never answered.  Understandably, perhaps.  Not everyone is interested in digging into the past.

And that brings me to the featured act this time around: The James Boys.  Not that I ever tried to locate them or anyone close to them, because there's absolutely nothing of any substance on line to point one in that direction.  And even for me, this is a bit left-field.  These guys were pre-teens of the Little Jimmy Osmond/Lena Zavaroni variety...child stars.

There have been at least two recording acts operating under The James Boys' monicker through the decades.  A U.S. Rock & Roll act in the '60s and our heroes in the '70s and the '80s.

Formed in 1972 in Chingford England, Bradley Grant (Born 22/12/60) and Stewart Glen Palmer (Born 6/03/62) were seemingly instantly signed to Penny Farthing Records and immediately rushed into the studio with producer, label owner and all-around music biz legend Larry Page (former manager/producer of The Troggs in the '60s, as well as having had a hand in managing the Kinks around the same time), to produce their first single "Hello, Hello" which was issued in 1973. 
Co-written - as was much of the boys' earliest output - by label mate Daniel "Beautiful Sunday" Boone, this song is catchy as hell and is in my opinion their finest hour.  A big hit in Germany, it failed to make an impact on the U.K. charts, but just have a look-see at the infectious performance on Germany's Disco TV-program in early 1974.  The little one (presumably Stewart Glen) is just sooo into it, it's near impossible not to be oddly moved by it...

The boys' second single, "Over and Over", was unleashed in '73 as well.  Their sole U.K. chart hit (#39 in May of that year), it is probably their best-known song.

Their Debut album "Introducing the James Boys" followed shortly thereafter. 
Along with aforementioned single sides, filler such as covers of other Penny Farthing acts' hits like Daniel Boone's "Beautiful Sunday" and Kincade's "Dreams Are Ten a Penny" were given another airing...


The next James Boys single, "Keep Moving", appeared in 1974.  The formula was somewhat tiring, yet German success was guaranteed when a German-language version was recorded, as had been the case with "Hello, Hello" a year earlier.

A second long-player, "Here Come the James Boys", came out in 1975 and some further singles such as a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Suzie".  But by then the bubble had well and truly burst, it seems, although the boys managed to move onto somewhat greener pastures and by the late '70s were signed as songwriters to ATV music where they were supplying songs to the likes of the Nolan Sisters.  And as late as the mid-'80s the James Boys were still performing as a duo on the U.K. cabaret circuit, sporting residing hairlines and white tuxedos.

However, after that the trail goes completely cold...  

Update, 26 March 2018: Recorded as James Brothers in 1980, produced, separately, by both Barry Blue and Miki Antony. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


OK, I gotta admit that I just don't know too much about those guys...

To begin with, it is fairly diffucult to find SOMEthing/ANYthing on them on the almighty www.   But here, exactly, is my entire knowledge, such as it is, on the subject at hand.

I came across their sole LP, "Breakout", in a bargain bin somewhere circa 1977 and bought it on a whim, because I sort of sussed them out as Rollers-wannabees/contenders for the teenybop throne.  Well, just take one look at that cover, will ya...

Kinda liked it.  Especially the Barry Blue-penned songs (he was the producer as well).  There were a few covers to boot.  Most notably, The Honeycombs' "Have I The Right" (The debut dEK single, no less, and a Top 10 U.K. entry as well) and the Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over" (Their third single.  A flop.).

But as I said before, the best bits came courtesy of Barry Blue.  Particularily, "All My Love Always" (Also, their fourth single), "Tough Kids" (A year earlier, a Barry Blue solo flop), and the ever-so sneaky "Going Out the Back Door". 
The semi-title track, "Breakaway", although not a Barry Blue compositition, wasn't bad either.  It became their 2nd single as well. 

dEK were:
Robbie Gray (Vocals)
Ricky Squires (Drums)
Davey Johnston (Keyboards)
Alistair Kerr (Bass)
Colin "Junior" Ivory (Guitar)

And that is all I knew back then.  Fast forward 35 years...

They came from Ayrshire, Scotland, and initially went by the name of Vehicle.  Began as a local pub act in '74, doing CCR covers and the like. 
But when manager Colin Robertson (some compare him unkindly to Tam Paton) spotted them and signed, oppurtunity well and truly knocked.  Support slots for national heroes Slik and Bay City Rollers followed, and by 1977 dEK were signed to CBS and their debut single "Have I the Right" became a no. 6 U.K. smash in March '77.

The B-side of said single was "Lady (Put the Light on)", written by Phil Wainman and Johnny Goodison of the Bay City Rollers' ("Give a Little Love", a U.K. #1 hit in 1975) fame. 

But this was a cover of Goodison/Wainman's very own Big John's Rock & Roll Circus original from 1974...


Nonetheless, dEK enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame, toured European TV studios and even rubbed shoulders with the Jacksons - to name a few.  Have a look-see at Robbie Gray's somewhat ancient MySpace page here for further info on all that.

A year later, dEK issued their last single, Bugatti/Musker's (who, during the early '80s, also wrote for Sheena Easton and Bucks Fizz) "Heart Get Ready For Love" - also recorded by Hello - backed by a raunchy cover of fellow Scots' Marmalade "Radancer". 
The sound of this single was somewhat rougher and more assertive than their previous output, so who knows what might've become of Dead End Kids had they been allowed to develop any further.
Viewing publicity photos I recently found on the net taken of the band around the time this, their final single, in May 1978, drummer Squires and keyboard player Johnston appear to have been replaced.  But, by exactly who I have absolutely no idea.  
And an even later photo has them reduced to a four-piece and sporting a more New Wave-friendly image as well!

But if anyone, ANYwhere has any more info on dEK to share, please do not hesitate to contact me or comment on the subject below here.  Needless to say, I'd love to hear from any/all band members!!

Thanks to Mark Brennan, Phil Hendricks and everyone at my fave '70s re-issue label 7T's (Cherry Red), the complete (Save for the Japan-only B-side "Girl Dancer") previously released output of dEK was issued on the 7T's "Breakout" CD in 2007.  



"Have I the Right"/"Lady (Put the Light on Me)" (CBS 4972) February, 1977.
"Breakaway"/"I'm Your Music Man" (CBS 5400) July, 1977.
"Breakaway"/"Girl Dancer" (Non-LP B-side) (CBS/Sony 06SP 218, Japan) 1977.
"Glad All Over"/"Last Night in Chinatown" (CBS 5569) September, 1977.
"All My Love Always"/"Roxanne" (CBS 5826) November, 1977.
"All My Love Always"/"I'm Your Music Man" (CBS/Sony 06SP 177, Japan) 1977.
"Heart Get Ready for Love"/"Radancer" (CBS 6926) 1978.


"Breakout" (CBS 82254) 1977.


"Breakout" (7T's Glam CD 44) 2007.

(Slightly updated November 2012 + June 2015)
Continued at: