Wednesday, February 12, 2014

25 Good Reasons To Like 14: Complete Works of a Criminally Unknown 1960s Band--RE UPPED IN 320! WITH LINERS!

This out-of-print 1998 compilation hasn't been available on blogs for several years. I recently scored a copy of the scarce, Swedish disc, which is, in part, one of my favorite albums, period.

What does the group's name mean? Here's a little chunk of information I found in the liner notes of the long-deleted Swedish CD anthology, Stora Popboxen, where I first heard 14's music:

“Floskler, Jeremiader Och Rim Till Omusikalisk Nation” [FJORTON, Swedish for 14) (literally: empty phrases, lamentations, and rhymes for an unmusical nation]  That was one of the explanations for the name “14”, and the number sits in quotation marks too.  Another explanation is that they wanted to choose a name that would stand out from the crowd.
“14” made eight singles and one album but were possibly a little too reserved for the Tio i Topp jury.

But for one of the members things went considerably better some 30 years later.  His name is Olle Nilsson – or is it John Lennon?

Not every track here is stellar, but the good ones are SO good that I rate them with the best work of a very fertile period for popular music (1965-68).

This Swedish foursome's music, at its best, weds stunningly inventive and memorable melodies to complex, evocative lyrics, with subject matter that often falls far afield of typical pop music tropes.

The group's principal songwriter and (presumably) leader, Olle Nilsson, imbued the group's 1960s recordings with an uniquely melancholy, introspective vibe. Though the music wears its obvious influences (Beatles, Who, Kinks, Paul Simon, Hollies) on its embroidered sleeve, the songs continually impress with their original, fresh feeling.

Some are misfires--the B-side throwaway "Nothing But Moan," the chunky but derivative "Suit-Men Crowd" and the parodic-but-wearisome "Mr Great Blues." The brace of originals from their album, In A Bunch, stand the test of time as brilliant songs and recordings.

"Little Down-Hearted Arthur," for example, captures the raw sense of youthful alienation as well as any song I've ever heard. "Restless Feeling One Hour After Dinner" is a striking evocation of boredom and ennui among a person who has no reason to feel those blues."Im Krankenhaus" tells the story of sickly child confined to his bed, too weak to venture beyond his room and miserable in his isolation.

"Frosty Stars on a Window Pane" and, most powerfully, "The Leaves of the Summer," evoke a sense of climate and seasonal change as a simple but affecting metaphor.

Listen to "The Leaves of the Summer" HERE and see how you like it.

The last three tracks on the disc were apparently composed in the late 1960s, and recorded (by the original group?) in the late 1990s. They don't exactly meld with the folky, intense quality of the 1960s recordings, but are worth a listen.

Get it, now in 320sound,with all the CD's artwork, and my inept but sincere translation of the Swedish notes, HERE. It's on, and should be a no-fuss download for ya.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Now-Complete James Ray: 22 Tracks; If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody (in Itty Bitty Pieces), then Put Me in Your Diary--and Welcome to the Floor

Seeing that the various "5" Royales posts, here, have proved popular, here's some more R&B, albeit of a more eccentric lot.

Contained HEREIN (Rapidshare download*) or HITHER (FileFactory download) are the 21 tracks that, I believe, comprise the recorded output of James Ray, elfin soul singer, between 1962 and 1964. He died in '64, as this skeletal Wikipedia article relates.

UPDATE: One more track, a lackluster version of "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade is Over," which shared a single with the far superior "One By One," escaped my notice 'til now. Download it here (Rapidshare only).  I now believe this to be the complete James Ray.

Ray had a great voice--smoky, expressive, and more than a little indebted to another Ray (Charles). His performances are commanding and unusual.

Producer Hutch Davies fashioned some zany arrangements to couch Ray's unique voice, abetted by several original tunes composed by cult soul figure Rudy Clark.

Some R&B/soul purists can't stand the weird backdrops on several tunes, but I love them, and think that their off-ness is an asset. From the tuba-harmonica duet on the waltz-time "If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody" to the cartoon-Dixieland of "St. James Infirmary," you never know what's gonna end up in the musical stewpot.

Ray did his share of good, solid straight-ahead soul numbers towards the end of his too-brief career. Some of these tracks weren't released until the 1980s, when Charly Records did a James Ray LP. Tunes such as "One By One," "We Got a Thing Goin' On," "On That Day" and "I'm Not Guilty" are top-drawer R&B-soul. The sub-par sax solo on "Not Guilty" is yet another unexpected sonic delight in the Ray-ology.

As best I can determine, these 21 tracks are all that Ray recorded--though I hope I'm proven wrong. The one James Ray song you know, "Got My Mind Set On You," is included with its two parts welded together.

Ray's songs were much-covered by the rock bands that came exploding out of England in the early 1960s. "If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody" and "Itty Bitty Pieces" have many renditions in the UK British Beat catalog. Maxine Brown, US soul-stress, did a nice version of "Fool" in 1967.

Nothing much is known about Ray, but the oft-weird intensity of the recordings speak for themselves. I love his languid, Charles-inspired take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Lazy Bones," and the Rudy Clark-penned modern morality tale "The Old Man and The Mule." Those two tracks show Ray at his vocal peak.

This is a large file... I opted to save the 21 songs as FLAC files. Please don't give me any flack about this. If you're using iTunes, just convert the files to AACs or MP3s, and you'll get a smaller (but probably lossy) version handy for your iPod, smart phone, or dumb camel.

Enjoy, and happy new year, holidays, noel, etc. etc. etc.


* RAPIDSHARE NOTE: since many people seem hopelessly confused by Rapidshare's newest interface, here's a helpful guide. When you click on the RS link, you'll get this screen on your computer:

Select the "To Download" box (which will turn orange when your cursor touches it).

More than likely, an ad window for will pop up. Delete it and you'll be back to this page. You'll now go here:

Click on the "Select All" link (which will turn orange when when your cursor touches it). A sub-category will then appear:

Click on the "Download Selection" link (which will turn orange when when your cursor touches it). A save window will appear. Download it wherever you like on your PC or Mac:

And baby, that's all!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Links Are Fixed to All Posts...

Rapidshare changed their interface to something new, confusing and clunky... big surprise! Thus, I've updated all the links in this blog so that you can, indeed, enjoy the music, and not experience frustration. You're welcome!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Children of Sunshine - "Dandelions" - Lo-Fi Pre-Teen Folk-Psych from 1971

This post is a bit outside of the usual purview of Musenick, but (a) it's an extremely rare record (a St. Louis, Missouri private pressing of 300 copies) and (b) it's surprisingly good. Here's your chance to hear it str8 from one of those 300 copies, by going HERE.

The story of this unique album can be found online, HERE being a particularly good piece. This album will be reissued eventually, but you can smugly say, "oh, that old thing? Yes, I know alllllllll about it." Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More "5" Royales! Out-takes with studio chatter--"The Real Thing!"

More "5" Royales greatness, via this seldom-seen "import" which gathers alternate takes, complete with studio talk. Great track selection and sound quality. I'm glad this was "imported" by whomever "imported" it.

Since I just re-re-re-re-upped my prize-winning 2009 compilation of the Royales' complete King recordings, I thought this would make a nice sidecar.

I'll try to post more regularly in the new year ahead. I've deleted all the old posts with dead links, and will try to put at least one new thing a month up in 2013.

In the meantime, don't let it be in vain... download this sweet pile of secret soul right HERE!

Here's the track listing...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Assault The Vaults:" Brothers Gibb Prove Adept Mimics of Changing Song Trends in Early 1960s. Ultra Rare CD in Great HQ Sound!

Postings on Musenick are as rare as this 1998 Australian release, which quickly went out of print and now commands high prices.

I enjoy the Bee Gees' Australian recordings, despite their admitted flaws. Young Barry Gibb was a good songwriter, and used this period (1963-67) to make a lot of mistakes and learn his craft. Still, the Bee Gees' best early recordings, such as "Claustrophobia," "Wine And Women," "Exit Stage Right" and "Playdown," are adorable Beatlesque confections. Maurice Gibb wrote songs, too, and some of his efforts are included in this set.

Brilliant From Birth, the Festival 2 CD-set of their Aussie output, is still available, but Assault The Vaults is so, so not easy to find. It's my pleasure to share these HQ sound files with you of the album's 31 tracks. I don't have scans of the booklet, tray, or anything else, but there is a wordpad doc with the track listing info.

From pretty-good imitation country to great Merseybeat emulations to varying girl-group attempts and psych-pop experiments, these songs cut a wide swath through the sounds of their times. Ironically, the quality of songwriting, overall, exceeds that of the Brothers G's own recordings of the era. (The two tracks by Jenny Bradley are sickly pre-pubescent pop, and not recommended for hypoglycemics.)

I just noticed that the text file zipped with these recordings has some errors. Here's the correct track listing:

1. (Underneath The) Starlight Of Love - Col Joye (Festival FK 364, 1963)
2. I'd Like To Leave If I May - Lonnie Lee (Leedon LK 415, 1963)
3. Walkin' Talkin' Teardrops - Jimmy Little (from Festival LP New Songs From Jimmy, 1964)
4. One Road - Jimmy Little (Festival Records FK 508, 1964)
5. I Don't Like To Be Alone - Bryan Davies (HMV EA 4362, 1964)
6. Love And Money - Bryan Davies (B-side to above)
7. And I'll Be Happy - Trevor Gordon & The Bee Gees (B-side, Leedon LK 829, 1965)
8. House Without Windows - Trevor Gordon & The Bee Gees (A-side to above)
9. Watch What You Say - Bryan Davies (HMV EA 4669, 1965)
10. Here I Am - Trevor Gordon (B-side, Leedon LK 924, 1965)
11. Little Miss Rhythm And Blues - Trevor Gordon (A-side to above)
12. I Should Have Stayed In Bed - Bryan Davies (1965 HMV single side?)
13. Who's Been Writing On The Wall - Jenny Bradley (Festival FK 1006, 1965)
14. Chubby - Jenny Bradley (B-side to above)
15. Everybody's Talkin' Michelle Rae (Leedon LK 971, 1965)
16. I Wanna Tell The World - Michelle Rae (B-side to above)
17. A Girl Needs To Love - Sandy Summers (B-side, Downunder UK-1455, 1966)
18. Messin' 'Round - Sandy Summers (A-side to above)
19. Hey - Bip Addison (Downunder UK-1454, 1966)
20. Young Man's Fancy - Bip Addison (B-side to above)
21. Talk To Me - Annie Shelton (Downunder UK-1456, 1966)
22. Don't You Go, I Need Your Love - The Mistics (B-side, Downunder UK-1362, 1966)
23. A Long Time Ago - April Byron (B-side, Downunder UK-1513, 1966)
24. Hes A Thief - April Byron (A-side to above)
25. All The King's Horses - Ronnie Burns (Spin EK 1578, 1966)
26. Don't Say No - Jenene Watson (Spin EK 1715, 1967)
27. So Long Boy - Jenene Watson (B-side to above)
28. Town Of Tuxley Toymaker Part 1 - Jon Blanchfield (Leedon LK 1662, 1967)
29. Upstairs Downstairs - Jon Blanchfield (B-side to above)
30. As Fast As I Can - Barrington Davis (Spin EK 1771, 1967)
31. Raining Teardrops - Barrington Davis (B-side to above)

Some of this is dross, but most of it's surprisingly good. The original 45s go for a king's ransom, so this is hard-to-hear stuff, for the most part. Get Part One HERE and Part Two HERE.  Enjoy - and happy new 2013!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Son of RE-RE-UPPED: Otis Blackwell: Volume 2 with 20 more classic tunes

12/30/12: The download file is newly re-upped. It lives again!

Hi, gang! Well, here's a second volume of songs written or co-written by the great OTIS BLACKWELL! Many songs I'm looking for are elusive, so this set has a mere 20 tunes on it.
I had to settle for a couple of less-than-stellar renditions here. When Pat Boone and Mahalia Jackson record the same tune, and the only version I could find is Pat's, well, er, it's bound to suffer in comparison. You can find videos of Mahalia Jackson singing FOR MY GOOD FORTUNE on YouTube. The recording itself seems very hard to find, although it was issued as a single by Columbia Records, and seemed to do fairly well. The search goes on...

Among the highlights are Barbara Lynn's imaginative update on DON'T BE CRUEL, in a 1963 performance that rivals Elvis' own in soulful intensity and playfulness; two bouncy R&B tunes by Thurston Harris, best-known for LITTLE BITTY PRETTY ONE; four fine pieces by Jimmy Jones, highlighted by PARDON ME, a Brill Building-style beat-ballad with an awkward social scenario (imagine SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME where the nice guy doesn't win!); an alternate take of PRISCILLA by Blackwell's songwriting partner Eddie Cooley, with some studio chit-chat; Jerry Lee Lewis' rollicking take of LIVIN' LOVIN' WRECK and Charlie Gracie's smooth rockabilly pop on COOL BABY.
I find the vocal mannerisms of Frankie Valli annoying on APPLE OF MY EYE. I like that Otis Blackwell wrote the song in the studio bathroom in 15 minutes, according to legend.
Otis turns in fine performances of two songs--MUSIC AND FIRE (a natural title track for this set!) and a reworking of ALL SHOOK UP that differs substantially from Elvis' classic 1957 version.
Th' King checks in with two early '60s efforts--the overlooked ONE BROKEN HEART FOR SALE and '61's RETURN TO SENDER, a quintessential Blackwell souffle of romantic rejection and toe-tapping melody.
Download the album and artwork HERE--and enjoy!