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Friday, May 11, 2012

The Rare Breed - The Super K Kollection (1966-67 us, splendid garage beat psych)

When Jeffrey Katz and Jerry Kasenetz discovered The Rare Breed in a New York City club playing cover versions of other artists' hit records under the name "The Conquests", they were impressed enough with their tightness and versatility to take the aspiring stars into a recording studio to see if they cut the mustard on tape. 

These earliest sessions yielded seven or eight tracks, including "Mickey's Monkey", a Smokey Robinson & The Miracles song, which was a popular staple in the repertoires of Brooklyn/Long Island "white soul bands" such as The Young Rascals, The Rationals and dozens of others. Many of these groups remain unknown to the public at large and are largely forgotten by record collectors in general. 

The Rare Breed, though, were given a shot at success by Kasenetz and Katz, two extremely energetic young producers who already had a relative hit with Crazy Elephant's "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin" and an acknowledged smash with The Music Explosion's "Little Bit 0' Soul". The "Super K" team, who would spend days (and nights) at Southern Music and other publishers looking for the right song and the next potential hit, presented The Rare Breed with "Beg, Borrow And Steal". 

The record was clearly and humorously a knock-off ol "Louie, Louie", but it worked as a new record and Kasenetz and Katz, who released the single on their Attack label, felt they had a hit. There was a hitch: getting airplay in New York is tough. The two producers discovered that it was far easier to break a record in the midwest and their success with The Music Explosion (from Mansfield, Ohio) bore that out. The Brooklyn-based Rare Breed were now presented as an Ohio band, at least to the radio programmers in Dayton. Jeff and Jerry were correct in assuming a predisposition of radio stations to play songs by local artists.

After Jeff ( Katz ) and Jerry ( Kasenetz ) took the master, they found other people to make the tour). As evidenced by these archival tracks, the band was a sublime amalgam of The Beatles, The Seeds, The Zombies and The Ventures. Throw in a little Tony Orlando and Duprees schmaltz and you have it. This record sounds better now than it did in '67. It's interesting to note that "Beg, Borrow And Steal" was later released in a different version by a group Super K dubbed "The Ohio Express". (No one who made the original Rare Breed "Beg Borrow and Steal" played on any Ohio Express album). 

Their version of this record received far more attention and it is that version that most people are familiar with. Locating original copies of Rare Breed recordings is almost impossible. Most discographies do not document them, and even hardcore collectors didn't realize that this album existed-indeed a Rare Breed!
by Stephen Kaplan

1. Beg, Borrow And Steal - 2:30
2. Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice - 2:40
3. Lonely Nights - 2:24
4. I Won't Be There - 2:00
5. Where Are You Going To - 2:38
6. All Alone - 2:02
7. Bad Girl - 2:22
8. City Girl - 2:14
9. Dark Nights And Mornings - 2:05
10.Mickey's Monkey - 2:19

The Rare Breed 
*Barry Stolnick - Keyboards
*John Freno - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Alexander (Botts) Norbett - Bass
*Joel Feigenbaum - Rhythm Guitar
*Tony Cambria - Drums
*Jim Pfayler - Organ

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Julie Felix - Flowers (1967 us, beautiful vocal sunshine folk rock, Vinyl release)

Julie Felix isn't too well-known in her native United States, but since 1964 she's been a major British folk music star and has been compared over there with Joan Baez. Felix was born in California, of mixed Mexican and Native American ancestry. 

A natural singer by inclination, she was drawn to folk music at an early age but was unable to get a career started in America, even amid the folk revival of the early '60s. In 1964, she decided to go hitchhiking across Europe, and instead of heading home at the end of her travels she made England her destination. She arrived there just in time to catch a fresh wave of enthusiasm for American folk music, fostered by Bob Dylan's emergence internationally as a singer and songwriter. 

American folk musicians had always found a welcome among England's folk enthusiasts, but just then, thanks to Dylan, the sheer number of folk listeners had ballooned to massive proportions. Felix also found a natural audience for her work -- she had an engaging voice and manner, a distinctive Mexican guitar (a gift from her father), and her combined Mexican and Native American backgrounds, which made her stand out from other of her compatriots, who were white and male. And suddenly, Felix had a major career -- the same year that she arrived in England, she became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British label when she got a contract from English Decca.

Felix debuted with a self-titled album and a single of Ian Tyson's, "Someday Soon," and she also scored a hit on television, on The Eammon Andrews Show. By 1965, she was a headlining performer, referred to in The London Times as Britain's First Lady of Folk. She cut two more LPs for Decca over the next two years, including an album of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie songs, and was also one of the biggest exponents of the work of Leonard Cohen before he'd established himself beyond a small cult of listeners in England. She also began getting recognized for her commitment to charitable causes, and not only raised money for hunger relief but visited several of the more troubled countries in the Third World. 

By the end of 1965, she'd filled Royal Albert Hall for one of her concerts, reportedly the first folksinger based in England to accomplish that feat. In 1966, she moved to the Fontana label, for which she cut three albums -- her 1966 album, Changes, is regarded as one of her best, mixing traditional and contemporary material and utilizing the support of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick; meanwhile, on-stage, she came under the wing of Brian Epstein, who booked her and Georgie Fame together at the Saville Theatre, with a then-unknown Cat Stevens appearing as the opening act.

By 1967, she was well enough established to be a featured weekly guest on David Frost's television series, and by 1968 had earned her own television variety series, with guests that included Dusty Springfield, Leonard Cohen, Donovan, and Richard Harris. Her late-'60s recordings included Going to the Zoo, a delightful collection of children's songs on Fontana, and in 1969 she was one of the artists featured at the Isle of Wight Festival. Finally, in 1970, Felix had her first pop hit when she reached the British Top 20 with her version of "El Condor Pasa," recorded under the auspices of producer Mickie Most -- indeed, Felix was the first artist on Most's newly formed RAK label to have a hit record, and she later recorded the album Clotho's Web (1972) for RAK. 

She also made her long-delayed debut on American television, courtesy of her longtime friend David Frost, who booked her on his Metromedia-produced talk show. Felix scored a second hit for Most with her cover of "Heaven Is Here" before moving to EMI in 1974.

The mid-'70s marked a period of extreme change for Felix, who was an unapologetic 1960s liberal with a strong commitment to social issues. She became disillusioned with the direction of the world as the '70s wore on, with their more hedonistic orientation. Finding northern Europe a more agreeable place to live and work, she moved to Norway and subsequently enjoyed hit records both there and in Sweden. 

Felix returned to California late in the decade and used the time to recharge her social conscience -- by the early '80s, she was heavily involved in the human rights campaign in Latin America. She returned to England and resumed her career, writing songs for the first time and directing her activities toward new age philosophy and interests, in addition to political issues. In the mid-'90s, Felix released her first new album in a decade, Bright Shadows, on her own label, Remarkable Records. 

At the outset of the 21st century, she continues to enjoy a full schedule of performances in England and attention from old listeners who remember her from the 1960s and newer audiences who know Felix for her 1990s music. Her new music has received mixed critical and popular reception, but her 1960s repertory still elicits serious enthusiasm from her audience. 
by Bruce Eder

1. The Flower Lady (P. Ochs) - 4:33
2. Mexico (Sand And Foam) (Donovan) - 2:10
3. Dialogue (I Want To Be Alone) (Jackson C. Frank) - 3:15
4. Soldat (Wolf Bierman) - 1:53
5. Somewhere There’s Gotta Be Me (Clint Ballard Jr) - 2:11
6. The Gates Of Eden (B. Dylan) - 5:07
7. San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) (J. Phillips) - 3:02
8. The Great Brain Robbery (Julie Felix, J. Melon) - 1:48
9. Saturday Night (Donovan) - 2:34
10.Don’t Make Promises (T. Hardin) - 2:34
11.Berlin (Julie Felix) - 2:09
12.Chimes of Freedom (B. Dylan) - 6:03

Julie Felix - Vocals, Guitar

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