Stumbled across this amazing bit of seventies techno today, the ‘Godley Creme Gizmotron’. Designed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme towards the end of their time in 10cc, it’s pretty much a ‘hurdy gurdy’ add on for electric guitar, consisting of a series of spinning rubber wheels that bow each string.
Here’s a news feature from 1977 detailing it’s development , followed by an excerpt from their ‘Consequences’ lp, that heavily featured the instrument.
Here at HOG, we’ve got a bit of a thing for albums made after a hit bands supposed peak. What we’ve come to term the ‘fuckit’ albums. The point where a band is still stretching out and growing, often artistically surpassing their earlier work, but has little hope of an audience of a size they once enjoyed. There is often a sense of freedom and experimentation with these records that would have been difficult to achieve as a chart act.
The most obvious examples of this for me would be the four early seventies Beach Boys albums- which despite some incredible moments, barely charted into the ‘hundreds’ in the US.
Beyond these- which have since entered the canon of classic albums- are records by The Tokens, Association and Turtles, which despite being incredible records by household names, don’t seem to attract anywhere near the same sort of attention. This has lead to many awkward silences for me personally, where enthusing about records by these bands to fellow sixties heads has lead to bemused looks followed by ‘what- the Wimoweh guys?’, and disbelief.
So- here are some great moments, from chart topping bands who deserve to be known for more than Happy Together, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and Windy.
The Turtles- Love in the city
This was released worldwide as a single in 1969, but didn’t really achieve the success it deserved, despite, to me sounding like a more poppy and commercial version of Forever Changes era Love.
The Tokens- Waiting for something
This is from The Tokens unreleased 1968 lp ‘Intercourse’. A limited release was apparently made in 1972, but I’ve never seen a copy of that pressing for sale, nor heard of anyone that owns it. It remained widely unheard until the current Revola release.
The Tokens/Cross Country- Just A Thought
After The Tokens split, 3/4 of them reconvened as Cross Country. Their low key cover of midnight hour was a hit, but the whole record is great. A perfect blend of sunshine pop vocals and flanged folky country rock.
Here is a Spotify playlist of some further tracks which are unavailable on Youtube. Check it out! The Association sounding like vocal era Eno! (Goodbye Forever) The Turtles singing cutting anti war songs in their Laurel Canyon period (we ain’t gonna party no more)
In addition to this, if you’ve enjoyed The Tokens tracks, I’d encourage you to check out the unheard Mitch Margo demos at www.becoolrecords.com/records
These are very much floating my boat at the moment- fitting into the Don Agrati/Dennis Wilson/Robb Kunkel/Emitt Rhodes/Curt Boettcher/Ned Doheny seventies LA solo artist canon, whilst also having a surprising synthy, Ariel Pink vibe (Love Today, Dirty Dog) in places. Great stuff.
There’s something really appealing to me about Rock and Roll as interpreted in Britain.
The often slightly more ‘showbiz’ and big band aspects to the arrangements add a campy and delirious sense of fun that is quite different to the US originators.
That said- Britain could and did rock with the best of them, despite perceived wisdom to the contrary.
Big Fat Mama: Roy Young- this has it all! Screaming vocal, big band slumming it, a pleasingly distorted production, and of course, the obligatory girly bvs. Enjoy!
Here’s a Johnny Kidd B-side from ’61 that even more epitomises the ‘arranged’ side of UK RnR without compromising the excitement for a minute.
Obviously ‘Shakin all Over’ is rightfully considered a classic, but pretty much all his singles have at least one highly worthy side, and this is my favourite.
Up next is Eden Kane’s ‘New Kind of Lovin’, proving even the often dismissed early sixties pop puppets had something to offer.
This was on the flip of his biggest hit, and is therefore a super common 50p single just about everywhere.
I love the tone of his voice. Even on the ‘pop’ A-side ‘forget me not’ he sounds not too far from the slack jawed warble of Phil May.
Dave Carey led Jazz groups from the drums in the fifties, and had a couple of novelty records on Philips before joining their A&R department and working with Kaleidoscope, amongst others. The most common of his Philips single is the truly awful ‘Bingo’, but after that came this facemelter- ‘Drum Beat’.
An actual video now. Lonnie Donegan isn’t a name that would necessarily spring to my mind as a purveyor of acoustic guitar shredding, but check this out.
Also notice the great musicianship of his band. There’s definitely more ‘schooling’ gone on here than you’d expect given the relative simplicity of the song structures, but when the band gets to solo…check out the drums!
I love the way the guitarist unleashes some super technical playing with just a ‘yep, I know’ smirk…just awesome.
One more for now- Derry Hart and the Hartbeats- come on baby
For me this is the perfect blend of showbiz and pounding.
Even though there’s a horn section, this doesn’t sound like the hipsters on a Little Richard record…there’s something strangely formal about the playing.
Similarly with Derry Harts vocal- even though he’s screaming in the best Little Richard style, theres something pleasingly…West Country(?) to his accent.
A great record, and of course, another B-side.
If you’ve enjoyed these tracks, there are a fair few comps of this stuff about, and with the inherent snobbery surrounding UK Rock and Roll, plus the relative obscurity (or overlooked plentifulness) the original records won’t often stretch to wallet hurting prices.
I’d read that the Beach Boys took the custom made tape delay responsible for the ‘do it again’ drum sound on the road with them but never heard the evidence until now.
It’s not unusual to hear treated drums these days, but this was 1969, and even fuzz pedals had only been around for five years or so, so these drums must have sounded like something from another planet!
*I make no apologies for starting the clip early enough to hear Mike Love’s onstage campery. I love Mike Love*
On a similar Beach Boys tech note- my jaw is pretty much on the floor after reading an interview with their engineer of the time- Stephen Desper where he recounted that the sped up sounding chipmunk voices on ‘She’s Going Bald’ were created using a an analogue tape pitch shifter- allowing him to create the effect of sped up voices, whilst keeping the speed the same.
And here’s a link to an article on the device used by Wendy Carlos. What a mind blowing machine.
This track is from Paul Linklater’s ‘Smooth Sailing and How’, probably my favourite ‘underground’ release that deserves to go overground (well, at least as far overground as the BLOGOSPORE) of the last couple of years.
Lo Fi tones and attitude are great and all, but when there’s a killer song poking through the murk, that’s what really grabs me, and this record has them in spades. Check it out.