The fruits of Grapefruit: Part 2

Part 1 looked at Grapefruit within the 1968 pop scene and staked a claim for the quality and ‘positioning’ of their contribution.  I also reviewed the six entirely new tracks released on Yesterday’s Sunshine: the complete 1967-1968 London sessions [RPM, 2016, Retro 977]. 

Here, I’m concentrating on the twelve tracks comprising Around Grapefruit, their 1968 album, and the alternative (actually the original) versions on Yesterday’s Sunshine.

around-grapefruit

Around Grapefruit

Side One
1. Another Game – 2.51
2. Yesterday’s Sunshine – 3.32
3. Elevator – 2.05
4. Yes – 2.40
5. C’mon Marianne – 2.46
6. Lullaby – 3.29

Side Two
7. Round Going Round – 3.00
8. Dear Delilah – 2.36
9. This Little Man – 2.26
10. Ain’t  It Good – 2.36
11. Theme for Twiggy – 3.15
12. Someday Soon – 3.02

Singles 1968/69

Dear Delilah – 2.36  / Dead Boot – 1.52 [1968]
Elevator – 2.05 / Yes – 2.20 [1968]
C’mon Marianne – 2.46 / Ain’t It Good – 2.36 [1968]
Someday Soon – 3.02 / Theme For Twiggy – 3.15 [1968]
Round Going Round – 2.47 / This Little Man – 2.27 [1969]

Likeable

Ain’t It Good and the harpsichord driven Another Game have a compulsive likeability and show a real command of the genre.  Bizarrely, both were passed over as singles by RCA.  The more obvious Elevator (yes, a classic metaphor on getting high) was a single and with its beaty, propulsive quality was probably one of the most commercial things they did but Elevator didn’t rocket up the charts.

They sound so young and joyful on John Perry’s very 1965/66 Beatlesque B-side to Elevator, Yes (‘Yes it’s happened to me… tonight I am me’)  a youthful tribute to life affirming experience showcasing some fine vocals; Peter Frampton may have had the prettier face but George Alexander’s voice is better than Frampton’s sometimes nasal whine (more on this in Part 1).  It was John Perry’s songs which had brought him to the attention of RCA but with only Yes making it onto vinyl, we can only wonder at the quality of his unrecorded material.

There are very few differences between the original versions of these songs on Yesterday’s Sunshine and the remixed versions on Around Grapefruit.

Captivating

The captivating Yesterday’s Sunshine (surely their masterpiece but why so much louder than everything else on Yesterday’s Sunshine?) languishes in gorgeous melancholy.  A skilful exposition leads into pounding keyboards and that cathartic, vocoder drenched chorus.   It’s the perfect marriage of pop and psychedelia.grapefruit-2a

Dear Delilah (their first single) bends your ears with its phased drums (is that what Shindig means by ‘crispy’?) and there’sthe briefest of classical instrumental passages, whilst quirky B-side Dead Boot comes on like some Fading Yellow obscurity from 1966.

Carnabetian

Instrumentals often get overlooked as mere album filler material but that’s emphatically not the case with Theme for a Lonely Queen (aka Twiggy).  A melotron mood piece with wah-wah Taste of Honey melodic undertones, it conjures up exactly what the title says – an androgynous, waif-like figure drifting by Carnabetian shop windows, wrapped up in her own fragile beauty, so of the moment yet strangely ethereal.   A fully fledged version made it onto Around Grapefruit as Theme for Twiggy but it’s the more minimal san strings original on Yesterday’s Sunshine which best evokes a glacial, haunted dream of swinging London.

Lullaby led to George Alexander being signed to Apple.  The song came to John Lennon’s attention in summer 1967.  Of course, dream like themes run through many of Lennon’s 1966/67 songs and perhaps it was the somnambulant, hallucinogenic qualities of Lullaby which appealed to him.  Known also as Lullaby for a Lazy Day, the Lennon-McCartney produced original (their only dual producer credit) on Yesterday’s Sunshine is a prime piece of English psychedelic pop but it was a slower paced, orchestrated version which made it onto Around Grapefruit.  To my ears the slower pace suits this drowsy song better but the Lennon-McCartney production highlights sonic guitar and sweet backing vocals and is more atmospheric.

I prefer the album version of Round Going Round to the original on grapefruit-2bYesterday’s Sunshine which has brass mixed back so lacks a little punch in that department.  The performance is still fine though.

Odd one out

The only 1967/68 Grapefruit track I don’t get along with is C’mon Marianne.  It just doesn’t sit well with the rest of the group’s output which is so ‘London 1968’.  C’mon Marianne is not bad, in fact it’s perhaps their most spirited vocal performance but choreographed swaying horns and a conservative, frat feel take Grapefruit back in time to where they really don’t want to be.  Who needs covers anyway when your songwriter is George Alexander?  Predictably, RCA seized upon C’mon Marianne as a single (it was a UK No 35) relegating the far more modish Ain’t It Good to be discovered as B-side.

This Little Man is George Alexander in Dead Boot melancholy mood again, adopting that classic generation gap 60s stance of us/them and attempting a reconciliation at the end.  Doesn’t the drum beat part company with the time-signature during those woodwind instrumental breaks?

The Yesterday’s Sunshine alternative take of Someday is stripped down and upbeat and I think works rather better than the slow album finale version although I miss George Alexander’s swinging sax solo.

So there are pros and cons both ways with the proto tracks on Yesterday’s Sunshine and the finished versions on Around Grapefruit.   The clearer sound quality of Yesterday’s Sunshine (the material was sourced from the original masters) is definitely a bonus and occasionally, as on Lullaby, a revelation.

Juiced

Sadly Grapefruit’s post-Pepper intricacies were no longer considered cutting edge come the grittier feel of ’68, even less so by Spring ’69 when Around Grapefruit arrived in the shops.  The album picked up favourable reviews but failed to sell.  Changes at the top of Apple Publishing didn’t further their cause either with American John O’Connor replacing mentor Terry Doran in mid 1968.

Another explanation for their lack of chart success might be that, judging from Youtube performances (OK, mimes) they failed to project as individual pop personalities.  The band comes across as cute but uniform and puppet-like.  Admittedly these are TV performances where they may have been instructed to peform a  certain way and they may have been a different proposition live.

Second half  

That they went on to produce a respectable but ultimately forgettable purple washed, blues follow-up in ’69 is no surprise.  George Alexander wrote all but three of Deep Water’s rather short, ten songs with the remaining three penned by newcomer Robert Wale who also seems to provide most of the rougher sounding vocals.

deep-water

The best track is Alexander’s Deep Water, catchy soul-pop in rock clothes.  Elsewhere Grapefruit embrace boogie and country but often sound a little too serious.  Shunning the trend to expansiveness, the album clocks in inauspiciously at just under thirty minutes.

We can only guess at what might have followed Around Grapefruit if it hadn’t been for the diktats of the age and record company.  Think of the distance between Elevator and Yesterday’s Sunshine, double it, move in the direction of progressive pop and this is what could have been.  Grapefruit might have been the forgotten sound of 1969 pop too.

Fruitless

All that was heard from Grapefruit after Deep Water was a lone 1971 single Universal Party b/w Sha Sha which is like background music compared to Around Grapefruit.

As for their 1968 prime, a stray Long John Baldry-like track, Fall of the Castle (currently available on Youtube) was apparently written for another artist to record and implies there may be yet more Grapefruit to emerge from the archives.

1. Dear Delilah – 2.32
2. Dead Boot – 1.57
3. Breaking Up a Dream – 3.20 *
4. Lullaby [sped-up stereo version] – 3.09 **
5. Another Game – 2.55
6. Elevator – 2.05 **
7. Yes – 2.19 **
8. Ain’t it Good – 2.41 **
9. Sweet Little Miss No Name – 2.36 */**
10. Round and Round [aka Round Going Round] – 3.11**
11. Someday [alternative version] – 2.30 **
12. Somebody’s Turning on the People – 2.14 */**
13. Trying to make it to Monday – 3.08
14. C’mon Marianne – 2.38 **
15. Theme for a Lonely Queen [aka Twiggy] – 3.52**
16. This Little Man – 2.50 **
17. Do What You Want to [aka Learn to Love Me] – 3.31 */**
18. Yesterday’s Sunshine – 3.35 **
19. Someday Soon – 3.03
20. One More Try – 3.16 */**

* previously unreleased in any form
** new tape transfer/multitrack mix

All songs written by George Alexander except #7 Yes, John Perry, #14 C’mon Marianne, L. Russell Brown & Raymond Bloodworth, Four Seasons cover

Produced by Terry Melcher except #4 Lullaby, Lennon-McCartney

Yesterday’s Sunshine: the complete 1967-1968 London sessions
[RPM, 2016, Retro 977]


The fruits of Grapefruit: Part 1

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The fruits of Grapefruit: Part 1

grapefruit-yesterdays-sunshine

Grapefruit sound like ’68 pop personified yet commercial success largely eluded them.  Despite Lennon-McCartney endorsement and an Apple association, their singles never made it into the Top 20.

Sounds of ‘68

The pop group of 1968 was The Herd.  Much as I love their production heavy, playfully apocalyptic creations (From the Underworld, Paradise Lost) The Herd owe much to a pre-Pepper DDDBMT sensibility and were actually fairly untouched by psychedelia.

It’s Grapefruit, who encapsulate the sound of post-Pepper ‘68 pop not just with their flute and harpsichord embellishments but in their chord progressions and an all-round trip-friendly sensibility, a youthful, often exuberant take on a colourful, kaleidoscopic world.

Pop-psych, psych-pop?

On a scale between pop and psych, Grapefruit are maybe three quarters pop to one quarter pysch but what a good place to be that was (musically if not commercially) in ‘68.

Seen from the psych end of the scale, July and Blossom Toes may have cornered the warped, time bending side of things but Grapefruit had something more substantial than just treated vocals and uber reverb.  They had brilliantly sparky songs.  The solidly melodic songwriting of George Alexander made sure of that.  George Alexander wrote everything bar two tracks on their first album, Around Grapefruit, and was also their wonderfully clicky bassist.  It’s Alexander’s solid songwriting which puts them above their more radical rivals.

And seen from the other side, the pop side, Grapefruit embrace the demands of psychedelia with a freshness and persistent confidence which their poppier elder peers – Tremeloes, Hollies – sometimes lacked.  There’s no see-sawing between King Midas in Reverse and Jennifergrapefruit-1 Eccles, no resort to supper club fare such as Suddenly You Love Me.

Segments of…

Grapefruit came together via Apple Publishing in 1967.  Terry Doran paired songwriter George Alexander with ex Sugarbeats and Tony Rivers and The Castaways John Perry and Geoff and Pete SwettenhamJohn Lennon christened them and thus Grapefruit was born.  It’s their first album, Around Grapefruit (1968, released 1969) I’m mainly concerned with in these two posts.

Around Grapefruit really impressed me 25 years ago when a then friend gave me a handful of cassettes, one of which was labelled simply: ‘Grapefruit’.  The name meant nothing to me.  I gave it a listen and instantly liked what I heard.  This band didn’t just produce the occasional brilliant pop song, they produced brilliant pop songs across an entire album.

A few years later, I tracked down their Around Grapefruit LP.  The only bad thing about it was the drab, uninspiring ‘grapefruit as ash tray’ cover which failed to hint at the sparkling contents.   That cover must have looked very dated indeed come release in 1969.

Tastes like…

It feels as if there’s been a growing appetite for Grapefruit over the last fifteen years or so.

2002 brought RPM’s 94 Baker Street, a compilation of groups signed to Apple Publishing.  It included a number of alternative takes and unreleased songs by Grapefruit and in many ways marked the beginning of the search for further unused recordings which culminated in May’s release of Yesterday’s Sunshine: the complete 1967-1968 London sessions [RPM, 2016, Retro 977].  This gathers together recordings before producer Terry Melchor remixed and redubbed the tapes for the Around Grapefruit album in early 1969, plus there are six entirely new tracks.

grapefruit-around-the-bbcMeanwhile Around Grapefruit was finally given the digitally re-mastered treatment in 2011.  A fourteen track BBC compilation, Around the BBC had appeared four years earlier.

If you’re new to the band, I would say Around Grapefruit is the place to start.  Follow that up with Yesterday’s Sunshine to give new insights into the album.  Several songs are radically different from their finished versions – more on this in Part 2

Fresh fruit

But what of those six entirely new tracks on Yesterday’s Sunshine?

There are two highlights: the cheeky escapade Sweet Little Miss No Name (rather this had made it onto Around Grapefruit in place of C’mon Marianne) and Trying to Make it to Monday in which George shows a more introspective, doubtful face with a melody hinting at both defiance and melancholy.

The other previously unreleased tracks are Somebody’s Turning on the People, Breaking Up a Dream – a choppy instrumental crying out for a vocal (it was never committed to tape) – and the soul party pop of Do What You Want to Do (aka Learn to Love Me).

The sixth track is One More Try.  Better known as Charlotte Rose, this fine George Alexander composition was recorded by The Majority for a January 1969 single.  Grapefruit’s version rocks out a little more though I’d give The Majority’s the edge. 

The new tracks are all worthy contributions to the Grapefruit oeuvre but can’t eclipse their prime cuts: Another Game, Yesterday’s Sunshine, Yes, Lullaby, Ain’t It Good and Theme for a Lonely Queen.

Join me for Part 2 when I’ll listen to Around Grapefruit and its alternative versions with complete track listings.


The fruits of Grapefruit: Part 2

The Casuals: Hour World, 1969

Casuals - Hour World

The Casuals began work on what was to be their sole album, Hour World, on 27th November 1968.  Hour World was issued by Decca in both mono and stereo versions in June 1969 but was not released in US.

As you can see from the track listing, much of its content also surfaced as single A and B sides:

Side One
1. Jesamine – 4.13 (Manston, Gellar) A-side
2. Toyland – 2.59 (Roden, Catchpole)
3. Never My Love – 2.28 (D. & D. Addrisi) B-side
4. Fool’s Paradise – 2.27 (Arnold, Martin, Morrow) A-side
5. Picnic – (Pardo, Smith, Guest)
6. Now You Can Be – 2.20 (Lynton)
7. Daddy’s Song – 3.05 (Nilsson) B-side *

Side Two
1. Hello It’s Me – 2.35 (Hazzard)
2. Love Me Tonight – 2.57 (Mason, Pace, Pilat, Panzeri) A-side **
3. Someday Man – 2.35 (Williams, Nichols)
4. Touched – 3.17 (Murphy) A-side
5. See!  – (Newcomb)
6. Sunflower Eyes – 2.26 (Manston, Gellar) A-side
7. Hey-Hey-Hey – 2.10 (Tebb) Italy B-side
8. Weather Vane – (Tebb) Italy B-side

  * as ‘Non E Il Violino’, Italy/Germany
** as ‘Alla Fine Della Strada’, Italy/Germany


Time and The Casuals

Toy is notable for its absence though would have fitted in quite well thematically with fare such as Now You Can Be, Daddy’s Song and Toyland, thus consolidating a common thread of childhood and juvenilia (so there is a concept to Hour World, apart from the rather tacked-on ‘clock’ one – the album is bookended with the sound of a ticking clock, tying in with the grandfather clock image on the reverse sleeve and on some single picture sleeves).

Jesamine, of course, leads the album, its extended timing of 4.13 here accounted for by some opening sound effects which produce a lingering rumble over the start of John Tebb’s delicate vocal, disconcerting if you hear the album version in isolation.

Of the tracks not already discussed under 1968/69 singles  Picnic and See! are fairly basic exercises in soundscapes, brought in to create an overall album feel which at least hints at psychedelia.  The band turn in a worthy cover of Paul Williams’ Someday Man though not eclipsing the composer’s original. 

Hour World ends with two Tebb compositions, the embarrassing and probably best forgotten Hey-Hey-Hey (which includes the line – ‘Watch out for me cos im so happy, You can wrap me in a baby’s nappy’ – that juvenile theme again) and his credible, gentle ballad Weather Vane.

Fabgear vibe

The slight music hall feel of Now You Can Be and the brass band on Daddy’s Song have the unfortunate effect of reminding me of contemporaneous ghastly kids’ TV talent contest Junior Showtime which first aired in 1969.  Both songs have their virtues though, Now You Can Be eventually alluding to a fabgear toytown vibe and Nilsson’s ‘Daddy’s Song‘ conjuring an affectionate portrait. Hour World bylineMeanwhile, Toyland avoids any familial saccharine quality by pursuing head-on that peculiarly late 60s conflation of childhood with mind expansion.

Five tracks from the Hour World sessions remain unissued: Love Can Fly, Take Me For a Little While, Tomorrow Tomorrow (the Bee Gees song – I’m not certain whether this was recorded with English lyrics or only in Italian as ‘Domani Domani’), Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Go plus, in the UK, Barcelona b/w Tomorrow’s Dream which was a single on the continent only.

Decca in-house artist David Anstey (perhaps best known for his wonderful Days of Future Passed album cover) provides the line drawing cover art, depicting our fantastic foursome and a cherub clambering over a hefty Greek God-like figure seated on a pile of ancient tomes.  Versions in Germany and possibly elsewhere in Europe show the artwork against a defining blue background.

Wonderful World 

Hour World is an enjoyable album for which I have an enduring fondness.  It captures something of that ‘pop band on an adventure’ vibe which was perfected by The Monkees.  The album’s potentially disconcerting blend of mature ballads and blatant appeals to a younger/family audience is united by a solid overall sound thanks to the distinctiveness of John Tebb’s vocals and the talents of arrangers Cy Payne, Reg Guest, Ken Woodman and Arthur Greenslade.

Due to the success of Jesamine, The Casuals remained busy with concerts, TV appearances and publicity meaning that Hour World was not completed until Spring 1969 by which time the afterglow of their ’68 single success had faded. Hour World did not trouble the album charts.

Still, the band persevered into the next decade producing a range of material, none of it commercially successful but some matching the quality of their late 60s output and leaving a legacy of rare demos.

That’s the story I’ll take up next time.

With Jesamine Gone: 1970-76


Previous posts on The Casuals

The Casuals: beyond Jesamine
The Casuals: before Jesamine: 1961- mid 1968
Jesamine Part 1

Jesamine Part 2
When Jesamine Goes: Singles 1968/69

Holiday

No. 12 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72

By Robin & Barry Gibb
Lead Vocals: Robin & Barry
Album: Bee Gees’ 1st 1967
S
ingle A-side (US) 1967


Embed from Getty Images

 

“Millions of eyes can see yet why am I so blind?”

Why should something fascinate when I don’t know what on earth it’s about? Yet this song fascinates me.

Spellbinding 

Andrew Sandoval brilliantly describes Holiday as ‘shimmering’*.   From those ringing organ chords – fourth, major third, minor third – I’ve always found the song utterly spellbinding.  I admire its subtlety and restraint, qualities which get sidelined with the Bee Gees becoming more and more the accomplished orchestral balladeers as the early 70s approach.  ‘Holiday’ is the absolute opposite of melodramatic or overwrought.

It’s been said that, rather than self-consciously spin a web of intrigue or fantasy, Bee Gees Holidayall lyrics need do is simply describe what is there.  In a sense, ‘Holiday’ does this, stating the obvious with lines like ‘…the puppet makes you smile, if not then you’re throwing stones’ – yet remains inscrutable nonetheless.

Somewhere in those enigmatic words I can find buried the idea that the singer (probably Robin) finds respite from the world ‘throwing stones’ in the comfort of another.  Is he the performing ‘puppet’ pleading for tenderness?  Perhaps we are not meant to know.

There is a breakthrough of emotional expressiveness in the ‘milions of eyes can see …’ section before we return to the more enclosed ‘You’re a holiday..’

Twinkling

An eeriness is enhanced by a subtle deployment of Bill Shepherd’s slightly creepy strings during the march like ‘dee, dee, dee, dee , dee, dee’ sequence.

Then with a foreshortened closing phrase and a twinkle, ‘Holiday’ is gone.

* Bee Gees’ 1st: Rhino CD re-issue, (2006), Andrew Sandoval’s booklet notes, page 13.

No 11 Day Time Girl
No 13 Lemons Never Forget

The Casuals: when Jesamine goes: the singles 1968/69

Following Jesamine

Now The Casuals faced a dilemma.  What were they supposed to do with a hit like Jesamine?  Follow it up with another of course.

Groups get criticised for selecting a replica of their biggest success in the hope of simply repeating the formula.  The Casuals, or rather the band’s management, cannot be accused of this ploy.

Toy story

The song chosen was Chris Andrews’ ‘Toy’.  ‘Toy’ is everything that ‘Jesamine’ is not – bouncy, uptempo, effervescent, not dissimilar to Andrews’ hits for Sandie Shaw with a faint oom-pah and some toy/boy type rhymes.

For what is a straightforward pop song, ‘Toy’ is given a fab arrangement courtesy of Reg Guest, culminating in the contrast between a tiny music box and a huge carnivalesque band lead off.  There’s even an odd ‘mew’ thrown in on the music box bit as if the whole shebang are out in force.

Perhaps the single was chosen to show that the band had appeal as teenybop popsters but it must have come as a bit of a disappointment for lovers of ‘Jesamine’.  The moment had passed and so had Jesamine.

Casuals Toy

Toy was released in November 1968, entering the charts in December at No 40 when Jesamine was still at No 46 and peaking at No 30 in January 1969.  It was to be The Casuals’ last chart entry and probably deserved better.  We can only speculate on whether a song like Fool’s Paradise might have fared more favourably as an immediate follow-up single, maintaining the romantic ballad connection with ‘Jesamine’ but showcasing a maturer song.  In the UK, the B-side of ‘Toy’ was Touched, a buoyant piece which, unlike ‘Toy’, made it onto Hour World, whereas in mainland Europe, ‘Toy’ was accompanied by John Tebb’s throwaway Hey, Hey, Hey – more on that in my next Casuals’ post.

In the wake of ‘Jesamine’s’ success, the group embarked on their first major British tour as support for Scott Walker along with The Paper Dolls, The Love Affair and Terry Reid, with The Casuals, Cupid’s Inspiration and The Searchers appearing at alternate venues.

In the States, ‘Toy’ and subsequent releases were credited to The British Casuals to prevent confusion with a home grown act of the same name.

The 1969 singles

Despite the relative failure of ‘Toy’, Decca maintained faith in the band and three UK singles were released in 1969, whose A and B sides maintained a fairly even balance between ballads (legacy of their Italian days) and a faster-paced, groovy pop sound.  Of the three A-sides, Fool’s Paradise and Sunflower Eyes made it onto Hour World whilst Caroline, anticipating a slight change in sound, did not.

Casuals Fool's Paradise

Fool’s Paradise, released in April, (written by Chris Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow, soon to form Butterscotch) was a solidly written romantic ballad but is overshadowed for me by its B-side, the heady Seven Times Seven.  The band really sound as if they are giving it their all here. John Tebb’s vocal veers somewhere between pop, rock and, at times, bubblegum (that opening Kasenatz Katz ‘Yeah!’), there are some lively drum fills from Bob O’Brien and Howard Newcomb’s latter day electric guitar is rarely as foregrounded.  ‘Seven Times Seven’ was an A-side in Italy, recognition of its inclusion as theme and part soundtrack for the film Sette Volte Sette – more on that a little later.

Casuals Sunflower Eyes

1969’s second single, released in June, was Sunflower Eyes by the Manston, Gellar duo that had brought the band such success with ‘Jesamine’.  Although pleasant, the imploring ‘Sunflower Eyes’ is not in the same league as its predecessor whereas B-side, Never My Love, despite being a somewhat predictable choice, remains for me the best cover of that much covered song I Casuals Never My Love bylinehave heard.  ‘Never My Love’ is eminently suited to John Tebb’s soaring voice and dreamy harmony vocals light up its heavenly chambers.  The Italian (and possibly pan-European) release of ‘Sunflower Eyes’ has John Tebb’s Weather Vane as B-side.

October brought the band’s third and final single of 1969, Roy Wood’s ‘Caroline’.  It isn’t at all hard to imagine The Move having covered this.  ‘Caroline’ was also produced by Wood and marked a slight change of direction for the band as orchestration is absent for the first time.  The flute introduction is presumably provided by Casuals’ bassist and sometime flautist Alan Taylor.  John Tebb has a very particular, deliciously mannered, rather courtly way of singing ‘Oh’ which can be heard here (‘Oh! Waiting for ‘Caroline’) and on previous single ‘Sunflower Eyes’ (‘Oh! You’d be surprised’).

‘Caroline’ was well partnered by John Tebb’s mischievous Naughty Boy.  Roy Wood often shows a predelicition for unusual instruments and it is possibly a bassoon adding a steady off-beat rhythmic element throughout ‘Naughty Boy’.  Both sides (especially ‘Naughty Boy)  prefigure the rock-‘n’-roll-lite of 1971’s Someday Rock ‘n’ Roll Lady.

The Italian job

Seven Times Seven (B-side in UK, A-side in Italy), was written by Armando Trovajoli and Jack Fishman and was probably recorded by The Casuals in the early part of 1968 as it featured in that year’s Michel Lupo directed Italian crime comedy Sette Volte Sette.  Although legend has it that every self-respecting modish 60s film has a ‘band scene’ sadly The Casuals do not appear.

Sette Volte Sette

Some jazzy, mainly instrumental music with wordless vocals also forms part of the soundtrack, provided by Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni according to the end credits.  The Casuals get no credit at all, only the song’s composer is mentioned at the start: ‘music composed and directed by Armando Trovajoli.’

I can’t comment much on the actual film as the only subtitled or dubbed version available appears to be in Hungarian but it looks to be a stylishly enjoyable crime-caper period piece, perhaps a kind of Italian The Italian Job with locations shared between Italy and London.

It is not always clear which parts of the soundtrack are provided by The Casuals, apart from the straightforward theme itself of course, but my definite hunch is that the semi-improvisatory, instrumental versions of Seven Times Seven must be by the band.  If so, this makes the soundtrack of particular interest to Casuals’ fans.


Here is a breakdown of the music in Sette Volte Sette with what I believe to be contributions from The Casuals highlighted:

  9.40 -10.24  flute/brass based on the song
13.47 -14.40  instrumental, jazzy
17.02 -17.25  flute jazz based with brass
24.23 – 24.55  fast based ‘dubba-dubba’ jazz brass and bass
28.18 – 28.34  woodwind based instrumental
35.27 – 36.16  an instrumental, ‘Seven Times Seven,’ organ-based with wordless backing vocals
38.02 – 38.53  very 60s vocal passages based on earlier woodwind theme
39.30- 40.58  From ‘When you feel like running out…’ until the drums just before verse 2, ‘Seven Times Seven’, the song, debuts first as background to a slightly kinky ‘bedroom’ scene, then foregrounded from 40.11 as accompaniment to an exciting outdoor sequence.
47.44 – 48.58  the theme returns with the ‘Well when you feel like running out..’ vocal.
53.48 – 54.48  swinging, organ-based ‘background’ instrumental accompaning a woman-on-woman sex scene viewed by an older, male onlooker.
55.48 – 56.21  aah-ahh vocals

1.01.15 – 1.01.48  band/organ again with fast dee-dee vocals
1.17.42 – 1.19.01  a loping instrumental with dee-dee vocals 
1.20.15 – 1.20.40  wordless vocals and very jazz flavoured instrumentals
1.32.03-  1.33.11  the song returns starting with the intro but fades out during the chorus
1.34.35 – 1.35.08  lolloping instrumental with wordless vocal

1.36.01 – 1.36.48  fast theme again with wordless ‘ba-dubba-dubba’ vocals
1.38.35 – 1.40.06  organ based music fading-in over dialogue becoming slower with organ drone for change of scene at 1.39.22 then gradually building with wordless vocals
1.43.30 – 1.45.13  theme in full from intro to verse 2

You can catch the film in full here – with no subtitles or dubbing though!


… and in Europe

A further three singles were released in some European countries, notably Italy and Germany.

Alla Fine Della Strada (‘At the End of the World’) is an Italian song by Lorenzo Pilat which became a UK Number 9 for Tom Jones as ‘Love Me Tonight’ also in 1969.  It features as ‘Love Me Tonight’ in English on The Casuals’ album Hour World along with B-side, Non E Il Violino (‘Now You Can Be’, actually ‘Daddy’s Song’).

Casuals Alla Fine Della Strada

The band sang ‘Alla Fine Della Strada’ at the February 1969 San Remo Song Contest and this is the only surviving footage I know of in which the The Casuals perform live as ‘Jesamime’ on Beat Club would almost certainly have been mimed and anyway the psychedelic effects almost entirely overwhelm what we can see of the band.

The thoroughly enjoyable Toyland b/w (again) Never My Love appeared at least in Germany in July 1969 and both songs feature on Hour WorldAlan Bown gave us the original ‘Toyland’ in 1967 with a home produced psychedelic style production; the busy cello is great but I miss The Casuals’ brass.  Jeff Bannister’s vocal emphasises the blissed out feel of the lyric whereas John Tebb’s is more knowing and has the edge on phrasing.  The Casuals win out overall.

But the most interesting of the three European singles from 1969 (not sure of the exact month of release) is the single Barcelona b/w Tomorrow’s Dream as neither songs have surfaced elsewhere.  ‘Barcelona’ was written by Juan Pardo, no connection with The Casuals’ producer, David Pardo.  ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ is of particular interest as it is written by John Tebb.  Frustratingly, both sides remain unknown to me.  Most European releases are on the Vogue or Joker record labels whereas ‘Barcelona’ is on Columbia.

I had intended to tackle The Casuals album, Hour World, as part of this post but having said a lot more on their 1968/69 singles than I’d anticipated, I’m going to save Hour World until next time and hope that you will join me then.

The Casuals: Hour World, 1969


Previous posts on The Casuals

The Casuals: beyond Jesamine
The Casuals: before Jesamine: 1961- mid 1968
Jesamine Part 1

Jesamine Part 2

Totally 60s Psychedelic Rock at the BBC

Tx. 23.10.15 • 10.00-11.00pm  BBC Four

Overall, a fine though somewhat predictable representation which tends to cling to the giants of the genre, inevitable, perhaps, given the hour-slot and what remains in the archives.  Essential psychedelic bands who were big at the time such as Tomorrow and The Idle Race feel notable for their absence as well as those who embraced aspects of the movement – Family and Caravan, to name but two.  Still, it’s good to see the psychedelic net cast wide so as to embrace comic, folk, baroque and pure pop facets of the genre.

Here is a complete rundown of what this compfest offered together with a few thoughts from me along the way.


The Yardbirds – Over, Under, Sideways, Down
Whole Scene Going b/w 1967

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A raw, dynamic opener.  Watch


Pink Floyd – Astronomy Domine
The Look at the Week • b/w 1967

 

Their dramatic and atmospheric Queen Elizabeth Hall performance with lightshow of course.  This thrilling piece conveys a sense of cosmic poetry, performance art and happening all rolled into one.


Procol Harum – A Whiter  Shade of Pale 
Top of the Pops  b/w 1967

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A straightforward studio (surely mimed) performance which has had many outings going back to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years.  Even given the stately nature of the song, the staging is rather uninspired and this must be just prior to the introduction of the ‘tin foil’ Top of the Pops set.

This is presumably the only BBC performance remaining in the archives, at least from the early psychedelic incarnation of the band (not that they ever described themselves as such).


The Who – I Can See for Miles
Twice a Fortnight • b/w 1967

The camerawork and editing are a vital part of the performance with dizzying zooms and rapid pulls sideways as if to capture a far reaching but jarring vision.  Whoever produced this clearly thought the song was about more than “a jealous man with exceptionally good eyesight – honest!” as Pete Townshend has claimed.   Watch


Donovan – Hurdy Hurdy Man
Bobbie Gentry  colour 1968

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A sudden switch to pristine colour for this show’s guest spot with a pretty, pink trousered Donovan perched on a studio stool with acoustic guitar and a band heard but nowhere to be seen.  Donovan seems quite entranced by his own song.   Watch


The Nice – America
How It Is  b/w 1968

This tries every trick in the book to inject excitement over and above the pyrotechnics (or antics, depending on your point of view) of Keith Emerson’s gymnastic, knife stabbing keyboard performance.

It’s like being granted some kind of enhanced vision – overhead lights topple like flying saucers, Emerson’s huge hands seem to knuckle into the camera lens, overlapping, spilling images jerk away to the edge of oblivion and back again.  Watch


Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – This Wheel’s on Fire
Top of the Pops • b/w 1968

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This clip has seen a fair bit of exposure but it’s a great song and performance even although Julie Dricoll’s icy charisma seems at comic odds with Brian Auger’s blokeish appeal.  Watch


The Status Quo – Pictures of Matchstick Men
Top of the Pops b/w 1968

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Francis Rossi wrote this in the toilet, we are told, appropriate perhaps given how little regard he has for the song though he’s clearly enjoying the ridiculousness of it all here, barely suppressing a laugh or perhaps just forgetting to mime.

Based around some insistent chord changes, a repetitive, ringing guitar riff, ample phasing and some nonsensical words, it feels basic rather than exotic now but still something of a classic of chart pop-psych and an object of fascination given how the band were soon to depart from this template.


The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Fire
Top of the Pops  b/w 1968

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Obviously a terrific performance all round, even more so given this hellish evocation was conjured in the Top of the Pops studio!   Watch


Joe Cocker – With a Little Help From My Friends
How It Is  b/w 1968

Rapid-edit camera work here, compulsively pulling away from the action and then jolting us back again though it’s the close-ups of Joe Cocker’s expressive face which are most affecting.  Watch


The Small Faces – Song of a Baker
Late Night Line Up  colour 1968

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A favourite clip of mine – something about diminutive Steve Marriott manhandling that electric guitar, strutting around the stage, furiously pouting from behind a newly grown fringe though it’s Ronnie Lane who carries the vocal here.  Given the hard rock feel of the song, I love it when they yell ‘the texture and the flavour!’  Actually it’s the metallic hardness which works so well to hammer home the unusual themes – hard physical graft and aching lust.   Watch


The Moody Blues – Ride My See-Saw
Late Night Line Up  colour 1968

Moody Blues 1967

Seen many, many times but still delights as they look at their best around this time and this early rock outing written by John Lodge is a long standing fan favourite.

A friend newly exploring the band’s output and stumbling across this clip was highly amused by Ray Thomas’s finger clicking, wrist twitching ‘dad dancing’ and it also seems odd Ray’s clothes resemble almost precisely those worn by Jon Pertwee in his first season as Doctor Who (apologies for these irrelevant asides..).

I do like the way that TV studios came in every colour and hue in the late 60s and 70s, not the boringly ubiquitous midnight blue of today.


The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – In the Canyons of Your Mind
Colour Me Pop  colour 1968

Endearing English eccentricity and deserving of a place here.   Watch


The Incredible String Band – The Half-Remarkable Question
Once More With Felix colour 1968

From Julie Felix’s BBC show, Mike Heron on sitar, Robin Williamson on guitar – spellbinding!  Watch


The Move – I Can Hear the Grass Grow
Colour Me Pop • colour 1969

The Move were described by Joe Boyd in the documentary preceding this comp as ‘beer drinkers’ psychedelia’, said with fondness and acknowledgement of Roy Wood’s talents to absorb what was going on around him.  Another major contender might have been the insane Cherry Blossom Clinic but it was The Idle Race, a lesser band in the scheme of things, who were the major league Birmingham psychedelics.  Watch


The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe/Sunshine of Your Love
Happening for Lulu b/w 1969

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This must be the legendary appearance when the audience – and Lulu – were almost blown away by the sonic power of the Experience onslaught, in one of those strange but fascinating cultural collisions so characteristic of the late 60s.  A resplendant clip but I wonder what had immediately preceded it.  ‘Boom-Bang-a-Bang’?  Watch


Cream – White Room
Omnibus • colour 1969

The BBC were at the Royal Albert Hall to film Cream’s farewell concert in November 1968 for their regular arts slot.


The Moody Blues – Om
Late Night Line Up  colour 1968

My favourite clip of the evening, partly because I am a fan of the Moody Blues and partly because I always suspected that they had recorded more than just the one song (Ride My See-Saw) for Late Night Line Up and partly because it was wonderful to find the second song should turn out to be the blissful Om.

Here we have a blue suited John Lodge at the cello, Justin seated with sitar, Graham also seated at bongos, Ray poised with flute and Mike, of course, at the mellotron, an unusual ensemble.  You can almost feel that sense of questing and discovery which In Search of the Lost Chord – and psychedelia – was all about.  What we have here is an edited version though.

In a nice bit of synchronisation, the spiralling out light sequence which closed the piece in 1968 becomes one with the more geometric version which ends this programme.  Watch
Moody Blues Photo Credit: emmapeelpants via Compfight cc


Psychedelic Britannia
With a Little Help from Joe Cocker 
The Bee Gees at the BBC… and Beyond
Cilla Black at the BBC