Fading Yellow Volume 4

Fading Yellow 4Flower Machine Records, FMRCD1004

“Timeless UK 60s popsike and other delights”

No, my Fading Yellow reviews haven’t disappeared, maybe just faded for a while.

I wanted to review the volumes in order which meant tracking down the elusive Volume 4. It’s a solidly enjoyable collection.

I hope you will find it easier to pick out individual tracks than in previous Fading Yellow reviews.

#1 Thoughts and Words – Morning Sky [1969] *****

‘I’ll fly the morning sky and then I’ll fly away’.

A fine melodic start to this comp.  Wistful harmony folk-pop not unlike Simon and Garfunkel crossed with Christie with an echo of ‘Across the Universe’-Beatles.  Producer Mike Batt brings sparkle to acoustic guitar strings whilst maintaining an overall natural vibe.

Bob Ponton (who wrote Morning Sky) and Martin Curtis were ex members of Pandamonium (not the Manchester based group of the same name).  There is a 13 track Liberty album also produced by Mike Batt with a cover depicting the duo in a woodland setting which I have not yet heard.

And here is Bob Ponton with Morning Sky in 2008:

I stumbled across this excellent  Mike Batt discography

#2 The Picadilly Line – At the Third Stroke [1967] ***

From The Huge World of Emily Small the Line’s only album (Picadilly was intentionally spelt with one ‘c’ since London Underground owned the copyright to the original though Fading Yellow adds the second).

The duo were Welsh born Ron Edwards and Roger Hand who began as folkies before being signed to CBS for an album of very 1967 lightly orchestrated  folk-pop-rock.

Picadilly LineThe arrangements are John Cameron’s, fresh from his revitalisation of Donovan’s career via Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow.  ‘Emily Small’ shares many of the same musicians – Danny Thompson on bass, Harold McNair on flute, Tony Carr on drums for some tracks – but the arrangements never quite fly as freely as they do for Donovan.

At the Third Stroke is a little twee at times (‘the circus returns to the town’), but is redeemed by an undercurrent of mystery or incipient threat.  There’s a feel of Chad and Jeremy in its determination to fully paint a scene and a tasty guitar sound which I know from somewhere.

I’m not sure what the ‘at the third stroke’ aspect of the song is apart from an obvious reference to the then ‘talking clock’ telephone service and this being the third track.  A concept ran through the album but it was enigmatic at the time and utterly lost a half century later.

#3 The Majority – Charlotte Rose [1969] ****

Majority OneThe Majority (1965-69) were an accomplished band especially in their later Majority One incarnation (1969-71) as 2005’s Rainbow Rockin’ Chair comp shows in abundance.

This is an enjoyably multi-part love song written by Grapefruit’s George Alexander with baroque flavourings, Beatlesque moments in those ‘I don’t know’ backing vocals and perhaps a flavour of ‘Man in a Shop’ era Marmalade.

#4 The J & B – There She Goes [1966] ***

Micky Jones and Tommy Brown’s promising first release before changing their name to the more zeitgeist State of Micky & Tommy.

Here we have a post beat/just pre-psychedelic sound, so it’s electric guitars with sometime strings which enjoy some nicely augmented moments.

#5 The Playground – The Girl Behind the Smile [1969] ****

B-side to I Could Be So Good, this Essex band released three singles around 1969/70 and this is the second.

Some nice piano arpeggios over twangy acoustic guitar and harmonies suggest innocence and indeed in its sunnier passages, The Girl Behind the Smile reminds me of Malcolm Holland’s Wendy from Piccadilly Sunshine 16

#6 Frabjoy & Runcible Spoon – Animal Song  [1969] *****

B-side to I’m Beside Myself (on the fabulous Marmalade label) and both sides written by Godley and Creme, Animal Song is charmed and charming, an escape into a beguiling realm similar to the more mellow tracks from Godley and Creme’s 1970 album as Hotlegs.

Tony Meehan (early Shadows) opts for a shimmering sitar arrangement which perfectly complements Kevin Godley’s rapturous vocals post-script on this point

Intriguingly imaginative before they placed too much cleverness between them and their music.

#7 Pipes of Pan – Monday Morning Rain [1967] ***

Buzzing cello, clanging guitar, organ, telegraph wire strings and a slowed down lysergic mood.  The B-side was an instrumental version.  

Monday Morning rain was just too outré to make it.  The sleeve says produced by Larry Page and written by Chip Taylor.

#8 The Toyshop – Send My Love to Lucy [1969] *****

A trippy fantasy of loneliness and yearning – wonderful.  The singer is missing his love but seems strangely content to remain in an  enchanted world.

B-side to Carter-Lewis’s poppy Say Goodbye to Yesterday, this is ambitious and beautifully put together and will truly take you on a journey.  A portentous vocal recalls Moody Blues as do lyrics such as ‘and in the depths of deep unconsciousness you’ll find you’re on a journey to the cities of your mind…’   I can almost hear early Family too.

A fine arrangement overall though I’m not sure about the wailing backing vocals… still, this scrapes to five stars.

How come they only made the one 45?

#9 The Candlelight – That’s What I Want [1967] ***

Written by Carter-Lewis in their Ivy League vein with echos of ‘Sealed With a Kiss’, That’s What I Want has been recorded since 1963 by The Cicadas, The Marauders, The Liverpool Five and probably others.

The Candlelight’s version comes with dense harmonies, ‘cello and nice guitar work.   This works up a little to be like Hour Girl (The Rites, #10, Fading Yellow 2) but not half as powerful.

#10 The Epics – Henry Long [1968] ***

B-side to Travelling Circus.  Written by Chip Hawkes and produced by ex-Tremelo Alan Blakley, Henry Long perhaps sounds later than 1968 with that compact piano sound and the electric guitar break.   I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere.

‘Travelling Circus’ b/w ‘Henry Long’ was The Epics third and final single release before they morphed into Christie but not before releasing the Roy Wood produced ‘Round the Maypole’.

#11 Finders Keepers – Light [1966] ***

Big drums, big production, surf-influenced vocals and a girl group influenced sound… dramatic brass, strings, harpsichord flourishes set to fairly banal girl/boy vocals.  Those descending piano motifs do give a sense of ‘when the night closes in’ though.

Finders Keepers included future Deep Purple member Glenn Hughes but, that apart, is one of the less interesting tracks here.

#12 Martin, Martin – Imagine [1967] ***

The trippy B-side to Say Shalom on Buddha with a desolate bookending (well, OK, breath wind effects) trippy, drony and vocoded backing vocals and – trumpet.

The rather knowing picture sleeve portrait of Martin Martin in shades suggests he was well hip to the vibe of ’67.

#13 The Young Brothers – Mirror, Mirror [1968] ***

Cook-Greenway produced and wrote the A-side I’ve Always Wanted Love whilst group member Paul Young went on to Sad Café.

Not the Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours song, the melody recalls Jimmy Campbell’s ‘Forever Grateful’ from his 1970 album Half Baked.

Mirror, Mirror breaks out into a soul influenced chorus which prepares us for…

#14 Robbi Curtice – The Soul of Man [1968] ****

Robbi Curtice truly operates at the crucible of mod, soul and  psychedelia.  His epic ballad When Diana Paints the Picture was a definite highlight of Fading Yellow 3

Knowing this A-side pairing represented his more upbeat northern soul side, I was eager to hear it, hotly anticipating Robbi would inject excitement into proceedings, which he does from the word go with pounding drums/bass, dramatic stop-start ‘Smash!’ ‘Damn!’ lyrics before we open out into full chorus with brass and flutes.

This slab of hi energy dynamism is a great pairing for its dreamy B-side though ‘Diana’ remains the single’s crowning glory but see also #25.

#15 Alan Bown – All I Can [1969] ***

Written by Tony Catchpole, this was B-side to Deram single Gypsy Girl.  

I’m getting to find out more about this band through various fragmentary sources.

#16 Jason Paul – Shine a Little Light into My Room [1969] ***

According to Fading Yellow‘s notes, this A-side orchestrated pop piece was written by Al Gorgoni of The Flying Machine and Bobby Weinstein.

#17 The Californians – Can’t get You Out of My Mind [1967] ***

Of Follow Me and The Cooks of Cakes and Kindness fame, this is the swinging pop B-side from The Californians first single, Sunday Will Never be the Same (a hit for Spanky and Our Gang).

#18 Wayne Fontana – The Impossible Years [1967] ****

A survey of the titles of Wayne Fontana’s 1967/78 singles – 24 Sycamore, The Words of Bartholomew, Storybook Children – show how eager was he to jump aboard the psychedelic bus.

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After a portentous beginning this sympathetic exploration of the mixed emotions of adolescence develops into a characteristically minor-key Graham Gouldman revelation complete with plucked strings, precision trumpet and that Gouldman giveaway final off-tonic strum.

Gouldman was bassist with the Mindbenders and recorded his own version of The Impossible Years for The Graham Gouldman Thing LP.  Gouldman’s English enunciation and baroque stylings add a delicate feel but Wayne Fontana provides more edge.

#19 Wayne Fontana – In My World [1967] ***

Hats off to Fading Yellow’s policy of featuring rarer tracks from artists not associated with psych, sike or psychedelia showing how almost everyone was touched by the changing times.

This is a Sergeant Pepper influenced invitation written by fellow Mindbender, Glyn Ellis aka Wayne Fontana.

#20 John Bromley – If You Were There With Me [1968] ****

John BromleyThis achingly idyllic track from SingJohn Bromley’s 1968 Polydor album, is consummately gentle folk-pop with wispy female backing vocals courtesy of Yvonne ‘Sue’ and Heather ‘Sunny’ Wheatman.

John credits Graham Dee as probably having come up with the idea for the female counterpoint melody.

The arrangement is by Gerry Shury who, despite his later pop-soul leanings, here turns in a gorgeously understated baroque accompaniment.

#21 The Gibsons – You Know I Need Your Loving [1967] ***

B-side to The Magic Book, with a more US flavour though there is a Beatles influence to some of the vocal phrasing.

The band hailed from Australia but came to England in 1965 – hence their inclusion here.

#22 Dave Berry – And I Have Learned to Dream [1967] ***

B-side to 1967 Bee Gees’ penned single Forever, this is a highly wistful song written by Ian Hunter (given as Ian Patterson here).  You can straightaway tell it’s Dave though even through the heavily vocoded vocal.

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Pre-dream Dave 

His best chart-era single was 1970’s Chaplin House, captured on Fading Yellow Volume 12.

#23 The Majority – Wait By the Fire [1967] ****

A sobering, atmospheric B-side (produced by Ivor Raymonde) to I Hear a Rhapsody – ‘in the cold light of the dawn you will understand’ – also recorded lower, slower and more sombre still by Just Us.

#24 David McNeil – Linda [1969]  ***

David is the son of Marc Chagall!

A stoned, self-written A-side complemented by rich harmonies and string/woodwind arrangement though sub-par sound quality.

It’s atmospheric but doesn’t quite do enough despite a springy energy, hinting at a breakout into something which never arrives.

#25 Robbi Curtice with Tom Payne – Gospel Lane [1968] ****

Robbi Curtice truly operates at the crucible of mod, soul, psychedelia and – music hall?  Well it worked for The Small Faces.

An assured touch from the very start with a Billy Nicholls’ cheekiness and a vein of quirky graveyard humour all set to a catchy melody.

Gospel Lane was written by Rob Ashmore and Tom Payne and feels like it wants to break out into a big arrangement but doesn’t perhaps because this is a home recorded demo.

The track is dated 1969 by Fading Yellow but Robbi Curtice’s Youtube upload says 1968 so let’s go with that.

I hold the next volume in my hand so hopefully the gap won’t be quite as long before Fading Yellow 5 fades into view.

1. Thoughts and Words – Morning Sky   3.36 • 1967 *****
2. The Picadilly Line – At the Third Stroke  3.03 • 1967 ***
3. The Majority – Charlotte Rose  2.59 • 1969 ****
4. The J & B – There She Goes   2.46 • 1966 ***
5. The Playground – The Girl behind the Smile   3.02 • 1969 ****
6. Frabjoy & Runcible Spoon – Animal Song   2.22 • 1969 *****
7. Pipes of Pan – Monday Morning Rain   3.02 • 1967 ***
8. The Toyshop – Send My Love to Lucy   4.20 • 1969 *****
9. The Candlelight – That’s What I Want   2.26 • 1967 ***
10. The Epics –  Henry Lord   2.46 • 1968 ***
11. Finders Keepers – Light  3.12 • 1966 ***
12. Martin Martin – Imagine  2.13 • 1967 ***
13. The Young Brothers – Mirror Mirror  3.25  • 1968 ***
14. Robbi Curtice – The Soul of Man  2.32 • 1968 ****
15. The Alan Bown – All I Can 2.46 • 1969 ***
16. Jason Paul – Shine a Little Light Into My Room  2.48 • 1969 ***
17. The Californians – Can’t get You Out of My Mind  2.05 •1967 ***
18. Wayne Fontana – The Impossible Years  2.31 • 1967 ****
19. Wayne Fontana – In My World  3.04 • 1967 ***
20. John Bromley – If You Are There With Me  3.14 • 1968 ****
21. The Gibsons – You Know I Need Your Loving  3.02 • 1967 ***
22. Dave Berry – And I Have learned to Dream  3.11 • 1968 ***
23. The Majority – Wait By the Fire  3.14 • 1967 ****
24. David McNeil – Linda  2.50 • 1969 ***
25. Robbi Curtice with Tom Payne – Gospel Lane • 2.38 • 1968 ****

Fading Yellow Volume 1
Fading Yellow Volume 2
Fading Yellow Volume 3

Fading Yellow Volume 3

Flower Machine Records, Second Press
“22 shiny jewels of US pop-sike & other delights 1965-69”

Fading Yellow 3

This world is big and wild and half insane as Ray Davis once said.  So why not curl up with Fading Yellow Volume 3,  a veritable cornucopia of multi-flavoured aural delights?

Any scoring system fall falls down at times and this volume I’ve struggled with my three and four stars.  Three and a half isn’t an option so where in doubt I’ve opted for four.  The fives are the standout tracks.  Of that I have no doubt.

In the beginning

I couldn’t get along with Eddie Hodges Shadows and Reflections **** at first because the lyrics seem at odds with the military march of the music.  Then I heard  The Action’s version and at once the song fell into place.  The Action offer atmosphere and an edge.  Eddie Hodges gave us the original I’m Gonna Knock on Your Door in 1961 (the Jimmy Osmond version was the bane of 1972) but he also co-wrote Along Comes Mary with Tandyn Almer (who co-wrote Shadows and Reflections) so superbly covered by The Association.

Michael and The Trees Show You Love Me *** is a sultry, sulky number of shifting moods and a great falling away on ‘girl, girl, girl.’

There are interesting and quite stark harmonies in It Will Never Be the Same *** by the superbly named Wiggs Of 1666 but it’s a shame about the slightly distorted sound quality.

Jim Ryan of The Critters produced and plays on Giant Jellybean Copout B-side Look at the Girls *** and, as you might expect, it’s smooth, harmony pop with dreamy vibes.

An air of dreamy wonder also pervades Network’s The Boys and the Girls *** another 1968 B-side.

Then, as with the middle of Volume 2, we hit three great tracks in succession.

Flowers in His Hair

Saturday’s Photograph’s Gentle Loving San Francisco Man ***** is the sound of blissful loving contentment.  It’s a warm-hearted and evocative piece of jangly flower power folk-pop which also happens to be a very well crafted song.  You must have heard songs which, upon first listen, sound like something you already know or feel you have always known – well San Francisco Man is just that because it’s so instinctive and simply never puts a foot wrong.

In the female vocal you can hear the song’s routes in earlier-in-the-decade high school girl-pop but the greater maturity, a mellow vibe, harpsichord and those deliciously ‘Indian’ sliding string passages leave us in no doubt that times have changed.   The lyrics are a virtual manifesto for the sensitive, poetic Aquarian male.  I especially like the line ‘If somebody puts him down he’d pretend he did not hear, And he always walked away the better man’ – five years earlier and Johnny would have flattened the other guy with a sock to the jaw and been a hero to the girl for having done so.  Now peace and love are the new virtues.  The only note of doubt sounded amidst the air of complete contentment is the cautionary ‘And I hope to God I’ll always be around him’ – sung with a slight emphasis.

I had this down as pure 1967 which spiritually it surely is but it was actually released in 1969. That perhaps accounts for its lack of chart success.

Mark Radice

I’m always hoping that Fading Yellow will uncover a talent new to me and two tracks from Mark Radice Save Your Money **** and Wooden Girl ***** do precisely that.   I’ve posted separately on Mark’s single

Ten Tracks

The next ten tracks serve up an enjoyable variety of songs without turning-up anything truly exceptional.  The best of the ten is Voyage’s One Day **** with its interesting variety of psychedelic sounds – repeated brass motifs, busy cellos tumbling through a sound tunnel, a husky-voiced verse or two, chromatic orientalisms, traffic concrete, all in a circular day-in-a-life voyage which takes you back where you began.  The construction is unusual as the opening brass melody isn’t heard again until some way into the song, suggesting a kind of late-in-the-day bridge which turns out not to be a bridge at all. This is unlike anything else on Volume Three.

A Time of the Season riff gives way to 50s early echoed vocals and then more chromatic weirdness in Shelley Tell Me Why by River Deep ***

If it’s snotty sixties vocals with organ you’re after you’ll find them on Springfield Rifle’s Left Of Nowhere *** alongside something a little more ethereal.

Lamp Of Childhood’s First Time, Last Time *** offers fine string-backed harmonies with a kind of Mamas and Papas influence.

Toy Shop by Trolley *** has a spinning tops, miniature merry-go-round feel and could be a kind of companion piece to Mark Radice’s Wooden Girl.  

Take A Look in the Mirror *** –  ‘what at first seemed so pretty isn’t pretty after all’.  There is a Byrds-like feel to this [piece from East Town Kids with nice guitar work and urgency to the vocals.

London Phogg’s The Times To Come *** This sounds like, and is, from 1969 with its pattering drums, and (for Fading Yellow) bursts of blistering guitar married to rapturous vocals.

There is a warm Pet Sounds vibe to Carnival’s  B-side I’m Going Home Tomorrow *** while Gaitley and Fitzgerald’s Séance Day ***  with its parping bassoon, shivery strings and strutting guitar has a faint recall of Curt Boettcher tracks like Hotel Indiscreet and I’m Not Living Here but with a certain Addams Family vibe.

Scandal’s Girl, You’re Goin’ Out A My Mind *** offers enthusiastic vocals and some ba-ba-bas before we reach the top track of Volume Three.

Picture this

Robbi Curtice – When Diana Paints The Picture ***** I love this song.  It simply exemplifies the way artists in the 60s could take a common genre – the love song – and make of it something completely original whilst employing a memorable melody and sympathetic arrangement to do so.  And incredibly, this is the B-side.

When Diana Paints the Picture has 1968 written all over it – the transformative ideas of the counterculture filtering through to pop, the dreamy but full arrangement in a style not dissimilar to Burt Somner or Nick Garrie’s The Nightmare of J.B.Stanislas album, the emphasis on feeling rather than appearances (‘it isn’t what she sees but what’s inside her heart’).  The lyric also casts the singer in a self-deprecating light which is never a bad thing.

Diana (the name means heavenly or divine) transforms the singer’s perception of himself when she ‘paints a picture’ (I don’t think it means literally ‘paint’ although you might choose to take it that way).  The song also draws upon ideas of the world turning from black and white into colour during the 60s such that the song itself seems to generate a kind of colourful psychedelic swirl.

The cascading wind-chime silvery bells which colour the introduction and opening line are a bit of a distraction but don’t detract from this being a fabulous song.

Robbi Curtice on Psychedelic Central 

Pastel World  

Enthusiastic, youthful vocals, some ba-ba-bas, woodwind, busy strings, a bashed cymbal and somewhere a Wurlitzer make up for a crazee good-time feel in Chicago Loop’s This Must Be the Place ***  This was produced by Bob Crewe who co-wrote many of The Four Seasons hits and songs for many other artists.  Sadly Bob died last month at the age of 82.

‘It’s a pastel world’ according to Saturday’s Photograph.  I find this kind of sun-dappled mood music hard to resist when it’s as soft and seductive as Summer Never Go Away ****.  It’s flutey and kinda warm but cool too.

Last up is Cadaver’s Haven’t Got The Time ***   which lifts off into an enjoyably unexpected harpsichord/guitar instrumental break.

This is a solid collection.  It lacks the minor key feel which unified Volume 2 but there is a varied selection here.  Most lovers of pop-sike should come away finding something to treasure.

1. Eddie Hodges – Shadows And Reflections [1967] ****
2. Michael And The Trees – Show You Love Me [n/d/] ***
3. Wiggs Of 1666 – It Will Never Be The Same – [1966] ***
4. Giant Jellybean Copout – Look At The Girls [1968] ***
5. Network – The Boys And The Girls [1968] ***
6. Saturday’s Photograph – Gentle Loving San Francisco Man [1969] *****
7. Mark Radice – Save Your Money [1967] ****
8. Mark Radice – Wooden Girl [1967] *****
9. Voyage – One Day [n/d] ****
10. River Deep – Shelley Tell Me Why (1969) ***
11. Springfield Rifle – Left Of Nowhere [1969] ***
12. Lamp Of Childhood – First Time, Last Time [1967] ***
13. Trolley – Toy Shop [n/d]***
14. East Side Kids – Take A Look In The Mirror [1967] ***
15. London Phogg – The Times To Come [1969] ***
16. Carnival – I’m Going Home Tomorrow [1968]***
17. Gaitley And Fitzgerald – Seance Day [1967]***
18. Scandal – Girl, You’re Goin’ Out A My Mind [n/d] ***
19. Robbi Curtice – When Diana Paints The Picture [1968]*****
20. Chicago Loop – This Must Be The Place [1966]***
21. Saturday’s Photograph – Summer Never Go Away [n/d]****
22. Cadaver – Haven’t Got The Time [1968]***

Fading Yellow Volume 1
Fading Yellow Volume 2
Fading Yellow Volume 4