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Plain and Fancy

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Various Artists - Now Hear This! (1965-70 us, outstanding garage beat from the Norman Petty vaults)

It’s been almost ten years since your intrepid scribe first journeyed to the windswept plains of north eastern New Mexico to enter the hallowed vaults of Norman Petty, the quixotic producer/engineer, in the first of what would prove to be many enjoyable visits to Clovis. True, Messrs Armstrong, Carroll and Topping had made the premier sorties and thus mined many of the rockabilly gems, as well as the masters of Trevor Churchill’s beloved Fireballs. 

I knew there was a lot more to Petty’s catalogue than just the essential 1950s material – but I was blown away by the sheer quantity of quality that awaited my questing fingers, as I pored over, and pawed through, his voluminous tape archive. Because of the resolute focus on Petty’s 1950s work over the years, the vast proportion of his 1960s tapes, and especially the multi-tracks, had remained untouched since he filed them after the sessions. Throwing each reel up on the machine revealed a continuing surfeit of blazing instrumentals, spacey psychedelic pop and, as showcased on Now Hear This!, some of the best recorded mid-60s garage and beat you are likely to hear.

Despite his base in remote Clovis, the urbane and complex Petty had already achieved a tremendous reputation in the business as artist, producer and publisher by 1964. He’d always cultivated ties to Europe, and had produced records in London in the early 1960s; most important was the unequivocal influence upon British groups of the groundbreaking rock’n’roll he cut with Buddy Holly. When the Beatles turned the American record industry upside down, there was only a handful of Stateside producers capable of handling the gauntlet thrown down by the invading British - and foremost amongst them was Norman Petty. 

The tremors of the British Invasion were felt as strongly in the Southwest as anywhere else, and as the region’s premier recording facility, rock musicians continued to beat a path to Petty’s door. For his part, Norman overlooked his predilection for “beautiful music”, and welcomed both the accomplished players and the teenage garage bands, even though the latter could sometimes test even his legendary patience. Whoever it was, Norman Petty made them sound great.

“Now Hear This!” isn’t just a collection of fuzz and fury – though the lead on Barry Allen’s And My Baby’s Gone is quite likely to melt your speakers (or clear the room of String-A-Longs fans). Petty signed bands with chart potential and several groups featured here, such as the Chances, the Cinders (featuring a young JD Souther wailing away like Roky Erickson) and the Cords were Petty-sponsored combos. Major Canadian act Wes Dakus’ Rebels sought him out to handle their recording career. 

Otherwise, the punk bands paids the bills, and there are some corkers on display here – snotty put-downs from Colorado’s Trolls and Teardrops, punchy items from New Mexico’s Morfomen and Venturie “5, and tellingly, the ultra-basic Perils from Hart, Texas (population 577), at whose session you can just visualize Norman Petty rolling his eyes heaven- ward as singer Eddie Reed spits out “HATE yew, girl!” with a cotton stalk stuck between his teeth.

Throw in some classy beat-orientated sides from the Crickets, Canada’s Famous Last Words, and Petty’s ever-loyal charges the Fireballs, and “Now Hear This!” forms a tremendous showcase for Petty’s mid-1960s work, an aspect of this singular man’s career I am most proud to have brought to light.
by Alec Palao

Artists - Tracks - Composer
1. The Crickets - Now Hear This (Jerry Allison, Buzz Cason) - 2:14
2. The Cinders- Three Minutes Time (Louis Ridings, Steve Dodge) - 2:12
3. The Trolls - I Don't Recall (Richard Gonzales) - 2:32
4. The Chances - Get Out Of My Life (Sandy Salisbury) - 1:49
5. The Perils - Hate (Eddie Reed, David Brooks) - 2:12
6. The Cinders - Good Lovin's Hard To Find (Bill Ewton, Eddie Reeves) - 2:19
7. The Teardrops - Sweet Sweet Sadie (Ron Myers) - 2:09
8. The Cords - Too Late To Kiss You Now (Glen Wilbanks, Vern Wilbanks) - 2:31
9. Barry Allen with Wes Dakus' Rebels  - And My Baby's Gone (Denny Laine, Mike Pinder) - 2:21
10.The Cinders - Ma'am - 2:35
11.Venturie "5" - Good 'n' Bad (Clark Keith) - 2:28
12.The Chances - It's Only Time (Sandy Salisbury) - 3:19
13.Stu Mitchell And Doug Roberts - Say I Am (What I Am) (Barbara Tomsco, George Tomsco) - 2:18
14.The Famous Last Words - Hey Little Schoolgirl (Phillip Southern, Richard Terry, William Smith) - 2:19
15.Barry Allen with Wes Dakus' Rebels  - Danger Zone (Steve Cropper, Wilson Pickett Jr) - 2:50
16.Jimmy Gilmer And Fireballs - Come To Me (Benny Welton, Fred Bekky, Norman Petty) - 2:02
17.The Morfomen - Write Me A Letter (Dave Rarick) - 1:58
18.Tom Beal  - That Girl Isn't Comin' Today (Tom Beal) - 2:10
19.The Cinders - Gloria (Van Morrison) - 2:53
20.Three Of A Kind - Only Time Will Tell (G. Gagliardi, P. Hutchins) - 1:58
21.Wes Dakus' Rebels  - Shotgun (Autry DeWalt) - 2:51
22.The Cords - Sin Crazed Woman (Glen Wilbanks, Vern Wilbanks) - 2:33
23.The Cinders - Barbara White (Louis Ridings, Steve Dodge) - 2:30
24.The Monocles - Let Your Lovin' Grow (Don Hirschfield, Jon Floth, Kevin Mcilhenny, Rick Null, Robb Casseday) - 1:58
25.Barry Allen with Wes Dakus' Rebels  - Love Me Again (Bonny Welton, Svan Oppen) - 2:14

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The Wheels - Road Block (1965-66 ireland, superb mod beat. 2012 Big Beat release)

Rave ups don’t come any wilder than ‘Road Block’ by the Wheels, who keep the party going on this CD of their complete output, 1965-1966. Tough, shouting R&B vocals and crunching riffs from Belfast’s other great combo.

‘Road Block’ and ‘Bad Little Woman’ are garage-beat classics of which anyone raised on American “Pebbles” albums will be very familiar. The Wheels, however, were not American; they were from Northern Ireland. Yet their band original ‘Bad Little Woman’ was picked up by Chicago garage deities the Shadows Of Knight, and in contrast they covered Paul Revere & the Raiders’ ‘Kicks’. Don’t even get me started on the feral intensity of their beat-punk opus ‘Road Block’.

Big Beat’s new Wheels collection comprises the A and B-sides of their three singles, released across 1965 and 1966, plus the remaining sessions they cut at Regent Sound; this is their album, its great period design making up for the fact that these talented young men didn’t get to release one first time round.

Like many who have bought Big Beat releases over the past 20 years, I came to the label knowing I would find great garage, beat and psych. Now the Wheels are in the company of the Beau Brummels, the Chocolate Watchband, the Zombies and Thor’s Hammer. And by heck, they deserve it. Anyone who has bought releases by those artists will adore the Wheels. Steaming out of Belfast’s Maritime Hotel (an R&B hotbed on par with the Crawdaddy in Richmond and Newcastle’s Club A’GoGo), where they graced the stage with friend Van Morrison and his similarly clued-up Them, before moving on to an obsessive following in the glamorous environs of Blackpool.

The Wheels lived their lives to the full, playing wild shows, popping pills and adapting R&B to their own means. Under the tutelage of industry bigwig Phil Solomon and producer Tommy Scott, they issued singles on Parlophone and turned heads with their long hair (or, in Brian Rossi’s case, bald head). It looked as if the charts would be theirs. Unfortunately, their sound and songbook may have shared too much with Them’s; Van and his gang stole the Wheels’ thunder and fashions changed fast.

In hindsight, the magnificent punk/R&B attack of ‘Road Block’ rivals anything the toughest US garage bands recorded, ‘Bad Little Woman’ was a really decent song, their choice of covers was inspired and there’s no denying their musicality or Rod Demick’s wild-but-soulful vocals. Okay, the Wheels were a beat band versed in R&B and they didn’t make an album like “Revolver” or sell many records, but by Jove they were exciting. The 12 tracks here are testament to that.
by Jon “Mojo” Mills 

1. Road Block (H. Armstrong, V. Catting, R. Demick, B. Rosbotham, W. Tinsley) - 3:31
2. I'm Leaving (John Lee Hooker) - 2:44
3. Bad Little Woman (H. Armstrong, V. Catling, R. Demick, B. Rosbotham, W. Tinsley) - 2:49
4. Send Me Your Pillow (John Lee Hooker) - 2:48
5. Don't You Know (Tommy Scott) - 2:51
6. Call My Name (Tommy Scott) - 2:12
7. Kicks (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) 2:32
8. Tell Me (I'm Gonna Love Again) (Graham Bond) 2:12
9. You Got Me Dizzy (Jimmy Reed, Ewart Abner) 2:24
10.Gloria (Van Morrison) - 2:43
11.Mona (Ellis McDaniel) - 2:43
12. Bad Little Woman (Us Version) (H. Armstrong, V. Catling, R. Demick, B. Rosbotham, W. Tinsley) - 2:34

The Wheels
*Herbie Armstrong - Guitar
*Rod Demick - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Brian Rossi - Keyboards, Vocals
*Victor Catling - Drums
*Tito Tinsley - Bass

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