Saturday, 28 March 2015

DICK JENSEN "PEACE OF MIND / NEW YORK CITY'S A LONELY TOWN" (1973)


"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town", the Swedish edition comes in a picture sleeve...

Dick Jensen was one of the first artists to sign with the now-legendary Philadelphia International Records label in 1971. Nowadays it seems that he had little in common with the other artists which made the label famous later on, but at the time - once you heard the power and soul in his vocal delivery - it all made perfect sense. And with the label main men Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff behind the scenes, it seemed as if Dick Jensen had finally found the perfect home for his energetic style of Soul.


...but the back cover is plain white!

Like many of the label's acts, Jensen received musical assistance from PIR's house band, the illustrious MFSB. The band on the recording sessions for his self-titled album featured Ronnie Baker (bass), Larry Washington (congas, bongos), Earl Young (drums), Lenny Pakula (organ), Leon Huff (piano), Vincent Montana (vibraphone) and guitarists Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers and TJ Tindall. Backing vocals were provided by Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton.


"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town", front cover reconstruction

Along with arrangements by Bobby Martin, Vince Montana and Norman Harris, and production by Bunny Sigler, Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff themselves (who also handled a majority of the songwriting) "Dick Jensen", released in February 1973, was as smooth and slick as anything else the label had released but was far more Pop-oriented.


"Peace of Mind (Mono) / Peace of Mind (Stereo)", front cover reconstruction (promo version)

Unfortunately, upon release, critics and Soul fans didn't know what to make of it. Jensen's talent was undeniable, but the album was not what they expected from the house that Gamble & Huff had built and the project itself was lost in the confusion... More information about the album are available here and here.


Dick Jensen at the Oceania Empire Room, circa 1972-73


Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Peace of Mind (2:47)
02. New York City's a Lonely Town (3:09)

bonus track:

03. Peace of Mind (Mono) (2:46)

All tracks are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

   
"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town" Side A and Side B

Following the release of the "Dick Jensen" album, "Peace of Mind / New York City's Lonely Town" was Jensen's third single for Philadelphia International Records; it was published in a company sleeve with catalogue number ZS7 3542, probably sometimes in late 1973.

The single was also released for the Swedish market, and that particular edition featured the picture cover you can see at the top of this post.

By the way, according to the liner notes that accompaign the CD reissue of "Dick Jensen", the single was not released in late 1973 - as indicated on the labels - but in March 1974... I'm doubtful about this, but I may be wrong of course.

The single didn't chart, but it stands as one of the great lost singles of its era, especially with "New York City's a Lonely Town" as its B-side.

   
"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town" Side A and Side B (Swedish edition)

Written by Gamble & Huff and arranged by Bobby Martin, "Peace of Mind" is a fine slice of joyful Pop containing all the elements that make a PIR recording so vibrant. Jensen adds soul to his performance; it's a lively recording that really demonstrate the singer and his golden pipes.

"New York City's a Lonely Town" was also written by Gamble & Huff, with a smooth arrangement by Norman Harris. This number is a real gem, a wonderfully soulful ballad that Jensen really sinks his teeth into. One of the many strengths of his voice is the passionate conviction in his delivery. He starts the song  as if it were a lost mid '70s Elvis recording and ends it with a Levi Stubbs-like bellow. With a musical bed that would have made The Stylistics cry with glee, Jensen wraps his booming voice around the heart-breaking melody, turning the sweat of his performance into tears of loneliness.

"Peace of Mind (Mono)", included here as a bonus, was released on Side A of the promo version of the single, which omitted "New York City's a Lonely Town" in favour of the regular stereo version of "Peace of Mind".

   
"Peace of Mind (Mono) / Peace of Mind (Stereo)" Side A and Side B (promo only)

Most of the text on this page was sourced from the "Dick Jensen" reissue liner notes written by Stephen SPAZ Schnee. The CD was released by Big Break Records in 2013 and is currently the only available Jensen album, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this great long forgotten masterpiece!


More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/06/22/news/story02.html

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/22/il/FP606220304.html

http://www.oahuislandnews.com/May05/Home.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Jensen

I'm currently compiling a Dick Jensen biography, the first part of this work-in-progress covers the period 1942-1972 and is available here.

I'm also trying to compile a Dick Jensen exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

Last but not least, I'm also trying to build a collection of Dick Jensen pictures and memorabilia, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Dick Jensen on this blog are available here.


I will post more Dick Jensen stuff in the next months, if you have any other useful information about him and his releases or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Friday, 20 March 2015

LOLITAS "LE KIT SINGLE" (1990)



Lolitas were a French-German rock band influenced by Punk, Rockabilly, U.S. Garage, French 60s Ye-Ye Music and Pop. For more information about them please have a look at one of the posts I previously dedicated to them here on Stereo Candies.

"Le Kit Single" was released sometimes in early 1990 as part of issue #20 of the French fanzine Rock Hardi, which also featured many pages dedicated to the band. The cover for the single was included as a cardboard centre spread that you had to cut and assemble by yourself... Hence the title of this release, I presume.

OK, this time I will keep my usual ranting very short and let the scans do the talking, so to speak. Happy reading! (...that's if you get by in French, I mean...)





The cover of issue #20 of French fanzine Rock Hardi, the original source of all the goodness presented in this post, 1990

In this letter from Berlin, Françoise Cactus talks about the fall of the Berlin Wall and various bands she had - more or less - recently enjoyed... Towards the end she announces the departure of guitarist Tutti Frutti - who quitted the band to devote himself to a more traditional form of Rockabilly music - and introduces new guitarist Tex Morton...



In the following three-pages interview conducted by Rick Bertrand and Alain Conil, Françoise Cactus discusses various topics: the early days of Lolitas, the recording of their third album "Fusée d'amour" in Memphis with Alex Chilton, her musical influences and childhood, life in Berlin, la France and... Jim Jarmusch and Fellini! Just click on the images to see them at full resolution.

       


"Le Kit Single" contains the following tracks:

01. I'm Allright (Live) (2:23)
02. Sexy Sex (Live) (3:57)

Both songs were remastered from the original vinyl in March 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork and more.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.





On Side A we find a lively live cover of The Rolling Stones' "I'm Allright", which was collectively written by the band under their "Nanker, Phelge" pseudonym; the song originally appeared of the U.S. release of the album "Out of Our Heads" in 1966.

Side B offers a live rendition of "Sexy Sex", a slower number originally included on "Séries Américaines", Lolitas' second album released in 1987 by What's So Funny About.. in Germany and in 1988 by New Rose in France; a post dedicated to this album is available here.


These are the credits as translated from the back sleeve of "Le Kit Single":

------------------------------

"I'm Allright" (Nanker, Phelge)

Françoise Cactus: vocals, drums
Coco: guitar, vocals
Tutti Frutti: guitar, vocals
Olga: bass, vocals
Ted Gaier: maracas

Produced by Andy Loog Jung
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, May 1989

------------------------------

"Sexy Sex" (Lolitas)

Françoise Cactus: vocals, drums
Coco: guitar
Tex Morton: guitar
Olga: bass

Produced by Andy Loog Jung and Lolitas
Recorded live at the Odéon, Münster, December 1989

------------------------------

Front cover drawing by Coco

------------------------------


Lolitas, circa 1989


Lolitas, circa 1989


Lolitas, circa 1989


Olga, Coco and Françoise, circa 1989


Tex Morton and Françoise Cactus, circa 1990

   
Lolitas live, Françoise Cactus and Coco, circa 1989-90

   
Lolitas live, Olga and Tex Morton, circa 1989-90


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered single, enjoy these live versions of"I'm Allright", and "Sexy Sex"!





...and, as a bonus, here's The Rolling Stones performing their own version of "I'm Allright" at the first T.A.M.I. Show in 1964... Watch till the very end and you'll be rewarded!




A few more information about Lolitas is available here:

http://www.lastcallrecords.com/frenchbiogs/lolitaf.html

http://pirate.family.free.fr/pages/Lolitas.html

http://www.myspace.com/leslolitas/

http://www.45toursderockfrancais.net/rockfrancais/lolitas45t.htm

http://www.rockmadeinfrance.com/encyclo/lolitas/

http://euthanasie.records.free.fr/discographie/Zgroupe-L/Lolitas.htm

http://namaste-baba.blogspot.com/2011/04/des-lolitas-stereo-total-mettez-une.html

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Lolitas


If you have any other useful information about Lolitas - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Friday, 27 February 2015

SAKURA (櫻花) "牧童之歌 - I DON'T CARE IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES" (1966)



Ying Hua, best known by her stage name of Sakura Teng, was born in Muar, state of Johor, Malaysia, sometimes in the late '40s - probably in 1948. She has always been mistaken for a Singaporean as she had been living in the republic until the mid '80s.

Sakura's music career began when she was just 17 at the now defunct New World, an amusement park located in the central area of Singapore. In 1966 she was signed by Columbia / EMI and released a 7" EP which was an instant hit: it sold 25,000 copies and became the first in a very long series of successful releases which lasted until the early '80s.

Interestingly, her stage name is actually a literal translation of her Chinese name, which means "cherry blossom" in Mandarin. Apparently she was given the nickname when she started singing Japanese numbers in Chinese during her stage performances.

Sakura recorded many fabulous Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Rita Chao (with whom she joined forces on many recordings during the late '60s) they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties".

During her heyday in the '60s and '70s, Sakura cut more than fifty records and she also came to be known as the 'Yodelling Singer' for her vocal 'trademark'. She still is one of the most popular female Mandarin singers, and during her career she also recorded songs in many other languages including English, Japanese, Cantonese and Malay.

In 1985 Sakura relocated to the U.S.; since then she has quit recording but she kept on performing live until 2013, when she definitively retired at the age of 65.




Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. 牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes) (2:53)
02. 我沒有人愛 (Nobody's Child) (2:24)
03. 做一對小夫妻 (I Need You) (3:09)
04. 要說就說 (Kopi Su Su) (2:00)

All tracks were remastered in February 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.





Sakura's second EP was originally released sometimes in late 1966 by Columbia / EMI in Singapore with catalogue number ECHK 562. The EP was also available with an alternate cover, you can see it here.

The backing band is not credited anywhere on the cover or labels of this release, but since the same recordings were later spreaded across Sakura's first two albums, from the information and pictures included on them we know that they're no less than the mighty The Quests, a legendary Singaporean group which was very active during the mid-late '60s, both as a backing unit - most notably for Sakura and Rita Chao - and as performers with their own hits and TV show.

Side A opens with a Mandarin version of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes", a famous song written and originally performed by American Country singer-songwriter Hank Williams. This is Sakura's first published song that feature her trademark yodelling; you can listen to the original version by clicking here.

"Nobody's Child" is a song written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree. It was first recorded by Canadian Country singer Hank Snow in 1949 (...available here) and soon became a standard in this genre; among others, it was covered by The Beatles early during their career (here) and The Traveling Wilburys (here).

I am afraid that I can't tell you much about "I Need You", the first song on Side A... Its simple title doesn't help, and the only related result I could find is this hilarious clip on YouTube; it seems that the song is the same... Anyone can help about this?.

The EP ends with "Kopi Su Su" (Coffee and Milk), a song originally performed by Dutch Indo singer Sandra Reemer in 1962; here's a link to her version.


Sakura and The Quests in session, 1966


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered EP, enjoy "牧童之歌 (I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes)" and "做一對小夫妻 (I Need You)"!





...and, as a bonus, here's Sakura performing a live rendition of "I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes" with English lyrics in 1994, enjoy!




More information about Sakura is available here:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/385495-Sakura-2

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/sakura

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao_and_sakura

http://questing.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/sakura-teng/

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/sakura-rita-duet-%E6%AB%BB%E8%8A%B1-%E6%B7%A9%E9%9B%B2/

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/sakura-teng-yodel-lady-who.html

http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/07/sakura-teng.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/06/sakura-pint-sized-livewire.html

http://modcentric.blogspot.com/2007/03/sakura-quests-go-boom.html

http://waxidermy.com/sakura-teng-st/

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/10/365-days-295---.html

http://www.thestar.com.my/Story/?file=%2F2005%2F3%2F1%2Ffeatures%2F10258953&sec=features

http://stcommunities.straitstimes.com/music/2013/12/23/sakura-teng-says-goodbye

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/886328

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157625436183960/detail/

http://www.freewebs.com/ritachao/sakurateng.htm

http://marc-antoine-panda.over-blog.com/article-32061166.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.html

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/sakura.rita.chao.html

http://macaenese5354.mysinablog.com/index.php?op=ViewArticle&articleId=4406997

http://www.pbase.com/sid_presley/the_record_collection&page=all



In the next months I will post more Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singapore/etc. Pop/Instrumental records released in the late-60s / mid-70s. As usual, I would like to provide information about these releases and their authors.

Unfortunately the Internet doesn't offer much information - written in English - about these artists and this is the reason why I need help: if you can translate from Chinese to English please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!

It's been difficult to obtain these vinyls, some are not in the best conditions and I'm currently working hard to properly master them. It seems that these artists and their music are poorly known in the West, of course it's a real pity because they made stunning releases: I'd like to share them with you with a proper presentation, hope that someone will be able to help.

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