Monday, 3 July 2017

RITA CHAO (凌雲) "HANKY PANKY" (1967)



Rita Chao, best known to her Mandarin-speaking fans as 凌雲 (…Ling Yun, Ling Ying or Seow Mei-Mei, depending on your preferred source of information…), was born in Singapore, probably sometimes in 1949 or early 1950; she grew up there, where she received her education.

Anyway, according to some reports, her family originated from the city of Hangzhou (杭州), which is located in the Zhejiang Province (浙江省) in Eastern China, not so far from Shanghai (上海).

Rita, the youngest of six children with three brothers and two sisters, started singing at the tender age of 8 and was already working as a singer and actress at 14. At school she was not very interested in her academic studies, instead she excelled with performance arts: singing and acting.

Luckily enough, she was born in a family of artists: her grandmother, Zhao Yongchun (趙永春), was a known Chinese Opera singer, and her mother Jing Yu Xian (荊玉仙) was a Chinese Opera singer too. Growing up in this environment allowed her to be familiar with life in the entertainment business, and helped to mentor her future career.

Her parents and relatives saw her potential as an artist quite soon, and decided to pull Rita out of school to follow the Opera troupe on their performances. Rita was given chances to perform Chinese Opera on stage and her performances were very good.

It is unclear when and where Rita embraced Pop music... However, at the end of 1965 - when she was just 15 - while touring Malaysia with her former group, she joined a band called Super XX.

In the meantime Zhao Yongchun, determined to turn her beloved granddaughter into a star, increased her vocal training, became her manager and successfully arranged for her to perform in various nightclubs in Singapore.

Rita was discovered on the local entertainment scene by Su Yin (舒雲), a.k.a. Henry Foo, a Singaporean singer, songwriter and lyricist, who at the time was also the A&R manager for the Chinese section at Columbia / EMI.

In 1966 she was signed by the label and released her very first 7" EP. On this record, she was paired with the top guitar band from Singapore, The Quests. The EP sold over 50.000 copies, and for Rita it was instant stardom.

During those days Rita met Sakura Teng (櫻花). As the story goes, Sakura was already a star singing at various Cabarets throughout South East Asia. On one occasion before going on stage, Sakura and Rita were backstage talking; they instantly clicked and started singing together. Sakura thought they had a very distinctive sound and that night she decided to add a segment to the show in which they would sing a duet. Obviously, they received a stunning reaction from the public and decided to join forces...

Well, probably that is just the romantic version of the story...: since both singers were doing quite well, it is an easy guess that EMI felt that pairing them would give both their careers a boost. In 1967 Rita and Sakura began performing as a double act and constantly toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, building a fan base at each port of call.



During her heyday Rita Chao recorded many great Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Sakura, they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties"; in those days, they used to perform at the now defunct New World Amusement Park and they both lived in Jalan Besar.

Rita's career lasted about ten years. In 1975, when her last solo album was released, she declared in an interview that she was about to make a movie in Hong Kong and that she was tired of singing all the time... In 1980-81 she briefly returned on the scene releasing two albums with Sakura, just before disappearing completely.

For more than three decades there has been no news about her in the media, only during recent years unconfirmed information appeared on the Internet that she may have been suffering from a psychiatric illness that required long-term treatment.

In early February 2015 the news about her death spreaded: Rita's 90-years-old mother confirmed that the former singer passed away in July 2014; she has been suffering from colon cancer for about three years when she died at the Singapore General Hospital surrounded by her mother, brothers and sisters. Her ashes were scattered at sea after a short wake and funeral attended by family and friends. The family did not inform show business friends as they wanted the past to be forgotten...

Most of the information included in this post was translated by our best friend Brian (...thank you!!!) from a rare article found in the May 19, 1970 edition of "Hong Kong TV Magazine" available in this post on the great macaenese5354 blog.

I am also in debt with Joseph C. Pereira, whose books "Apache Over Singapore" and "Beyond the Tea Dance" are a constant and invaluable source of information and inspiration, thanks!!!


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

01. Hanky Panky (3:11)
02. 薄情郎 (He's Untrue) (3:24)
03. 去年今天 (Lonely Heart) (3:36)
04. 媽媽的勸告 (Bachelor Boy) (2:07)

All tracks were remastered from vinyl in June 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



"Hanky Panky" was released by EMI /Columbia in Singapore sometimes during 1967. It is one of the most sought after Rita Chao EPs, and therefore one of the most expensive. As far as I know, two different editions of this record exist: the main difference between them is the background colour of the front cover, which is available in blue (here) and purple (the copy on offer in this post); the back cover also uses some different colours for the lettering and the label's logo. Once again, the backing band duties are performed by The Quests and all numbers were also included on Rita's debut album. Now let's have a closer look at each track.

Side 1 opens with the title track "Hanky Panky", a song written in 1963 by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich for their group, The Raindrops. It was famously remade by rock group Tommy James and the Shondells, who took it to No. 1 in the United States in 1966. On this version, The Quests add their trademark guitar sound and wild drumming, turning Rita's performance in a Garage classic. Here's a link to The Raindrops' original version.

I wasn't able to find any information about "薄情郎 (He's Untrue)", I would believe that it is an original composition, but the presence of a Mandarin + English title seems to prove the contrary... Maybe some reader of this blog can shed some light on the subject? Anyway, this track features Reggie Vergese in top form offering a great performance on acoustic guitar, including a mandolin-style solo.



Side 2 starts with "去年今天 (Lonely Heart)", a Mandarin cover of The Thunderbirds' "My Lonely Heart", one of the most popular original compositions in the history of Singapore Pop Music, which was written in 1966 by Harvey Fitzgerald - the band's lead singer - and Gerry Pasqual, their manager. The magic of the original version is reinforced by Rita's memorable performance and the evocative Mandarin lyrics would send shivers down the spine of the coldest human on Earth. This is a M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E!!!

"媽媽的勸告 (Bachelor Boy)", the last track on the EP, is a cover of a song written by Cliff Richard and Bruce Welch. Originally performed by Cliff Richard with musical accompaniment by The Shadows in 1963, it was also included on the successful movie "Summer Holidays".


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered EP, enjoy!










More information about Rita Chao is available here:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/385494-Rita-Chao

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E5%87%8C%E9%9B%B2

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/rita_chao_and_sakura

http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/25610568.html

http://blog.roodo.com/macaenese5354/archives/25707290.html

https://questing.wordpress.com/category/rita-chao-%E5%87%8C%E9%9B%B2/

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

http://illfolks.blogspot.com/2014/04/rita-chao-chaod-mary-proud-mary-in.html

http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/07/rita-chao.html

http://www.tofu-magazine.net/newVersion/pages/gogo.html

http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/nightlife/music-tuesday-far-out-east-2

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/rita-chao-pop-go-go-for-william-dad.html

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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157625310673913

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

http://www.geocities.jp/a104gs/rita.lp.html

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

http://women.asiaone.com/women/people/agogo-princess-rita-chao-died-6-months-ago

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/a-go-go-queen-rita-chao-dies-of-colon-cancer

http://www.lollipop.sg/content/partner-shocked-news-agogo-princess-rita-chao-died-6-months-ago



I'm still struggling to find somebody who can help me with translations:

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!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

JIMI TENOR AND HIS SHAMANS "FIGHT / CRISIS" (1989)



Jimi Tenor was born in 1965 as Lassi O. T. Lehto in Lahti, Finland. The resemblance to the youngest member of The Osmonds, Little Jimmy Osmond, earned him his nickname of Jimi in the early '70s.

Just like his older brother Marko, Jimi had a passion for music. He studied for many years at a music institute and can play flute, piano and saxophone; his skills were further implemented by his work experience as the saxophone player for various bands.

At 16 he was the youngest member of Pallosalama (Thunderball), an orchestra which used to tour Finland with a sort of Saturday night dance shows for older people. This act was very popular then and also appeared on the Syksyn Sävel (Melody of Autumn), a song contest on Finnish Television.

Later on he was part of the Pop-Rock group Himo (Lust) as a saxophone and keyboards player. In 1986 the band gained some success in the Finnish Rock Championships and released a self-titled album along with a few singles on the Amulet and Cityboy labels. Tenor was also responsible for the music and lyrics of a couple of the band's songs.

Other groups in which Jimi was involved in the mid-80s include The Cherry Pickers, Iloinen Poika Milloin (Happy Boy When) - a band founded by his brother - and... Shaman!



Jimi Tenor and His Shamans were founded during 1986; this new project was an experimental evolution of the more ordinary Rock band Shaman. At the time, Tenor had recently discovered the Industrial sound of Einstürzende Neubauten and Test Dept., and - as a twist of fate - had accepted a new job in a mayonnaise factory.

The group consisted of Ilkka Mattila (guitar), Toni Kuusisto (bass) Niklas Häggblom (trumpet), and Enver Hoxha (real name Hannu Mäkelä, atonal alt bass), with Tero Kling playing drums as an added member. Jimi was the lead singer, played tenor saxophone and - just like all the other members of the band - banged on empty oil barrels, a trademark of their sound both in studio and live.

Matti Knaapi, a graphic designer and inventor, allowed the band to embrace a more experimental sound helping Jimi to create special equipment in the form of self-built musical instruments bearing names like Vera (an automatic trombone), Sirkka (a man-sized mechanical drum machine), Melukone (a noise machine) and The Liberace (a peculiar-looking stainless steel object which is hard to describe).

In late 1987, after a series of concerts in Finland, Jimi Tenor and His Shamans debuted with their first single. "X-Rays / Still In Love" was released by the band on their own JTS / Shamans label with catalogue number JTS 2001, probably a reference to Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odissey" since the catalogue numbers of the other releases of their label hint at various science fiction movies and books.


Jimi Tenor performing live with the Shamans, 1988

As the band's popularity grew, their second single "Closer / Some Fun" was published in early 1988 by Euros Records, which - according to the relevant Discogs entry - was a Finnish label specialised in Rock music active from 1983 until the early '90s.

In early 1988 Euros also released "Total Capacity of 216,5 Litres", the band's debut album. Entitled after the peculiar characteristic of the beloved barrels which most of the band members used to play both live and in the studio, the record offered eleven tracks that showcased the Shamans' ability at combining Industrial paraphernalia with more accessible elements, and included a few numbers that wouldn't have made a poor showing in one of the albums that Jimi Tenor released at the beginning of his solo career during the mid '90s.

The following year Sonic Records expressed their interest about releasing a Shamans single, but something went wrong along the way and "Fight / Crisis" - the subject of this post - ended up being self-produced by the group sometime in 1989.


Jimi Tenor, circa 1989


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

01. Fight (3:48)
02. Crisis (3:46)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in May 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



As already mentioned, this single was originally planned as a Sonic Records release, but it looks like the band disagreed with the label about the publishing schedule at the time the record was supposed to be pressed, so they decided to self-release it. Despite the 'JTS 2010' catalogue number on the cover, the engraving 'Sonic-4' survived among the end grooves of the record itself.

Some copies of the single - including the one that is offered in this post - came in a transparent plastic sleeve with simple black and white photocopied cover/insert, other copies didn't have any kind of artwork except the center labels. Despite the title "Crisis" comes first on the cover, the actual Side A is identified as "Fight" by the catalogue number 'Sonic-4-A' in the end grooves. By the way, there's no actual mention of Jimi Tenor on the cover, only the word 'Shamans'...



"Fight" is a fast song with a circular and obsessive structure, where assorted percussion and simple bass lines keep on repeating the same patterns. Vocals are delivered in a mantric style, urging the listener to 'fight for survival'... All instruments are played in a percussive way, except the horns which provide melodic lines and also offer short bridges in the completely instrumental second part.

"Crisis" is a slower number with a more complex and balanced arrangement. The instrumental build-up in the first section in a fine example of perfection and Ilkka Mattila's reverbered guitar short solo deserves a special mention. This is a love song and the lyrics express the need to split up when a relation goes wrong, but also the fear of the uncertainty that's coming next...

Here's the credits and personnel list for these recordings as elaborated from the photocopied insert included with the record:

Jimi Tenor (Lassi Lehto) - saxophone, voice
Enver Hoxna (Hannu Mäkelä) - atonal alt bass
Toni Kuusisto - bass
Tero Kling - drums, barrels, voice
Ilkka Mattila - guitar
Niklas Häggblom - trumpet, voice


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy!






More information about Jimi Tenor is available here:

http://www.jimitenor.com/

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

http://www.discogs.com/artist/952-Jimi-Tenor

http://www.discogs.com/artist/136250-Jimi-Tenor-And-His-Shamans

http://www.phinnweb.org/tenor/history.html

http://www.phinnweb.org/tenor/discography/shamans.html

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/jimi_tenor_and_his_shamans

http://creativegames.org.uk/modules/Art_Technology/Futurism/Tenorvision_gear.htm


If you have any other useful information about 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!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

THE APOLLO "HONG KONG FASCINATION - APOLLO 12 GUITAR MUSIC" (太陽神樂隊 "美麗的香港", 1969)



It's with great excitement and renovated interest that, after a long break, I return to feature an instrumental Hong Kong album on this blog. I promise it won't take so long next time...

So, today here we have another nice LP by The Apollo (太陽神樂隊), released at the end of the '60s by New Wave Record Co. (新風), whose complete title is "Hong Kong Fascination - Apollo 12 Guitar Music (美麗的香港)".

As with most of the label's output, the exact release date for this album catalogued as NWLP 12 is not written anywhere on the cover. Anyway, other releases bearing a later catalogue number are proven to have been published in 1969, so I guess that this LP was released around the same time or slightly earlier.

Recently I discovered that some of the albums released in Hong Kong by New Wave Record Co. (新風) were also released by well-known Malaysian label Life Records (麗風) with the same covers, but with different catalogue numbers. This strengthened my theory that New Wave was probably a Life sublabel or that, at least, they licensed selected albums for the Hong Kong market... Well, that was until I discovered that New Wave also released albums originally produced by Fung Hang Records Co. - another renowned Hong Kong label - with slightly-adjusted covers...

At this point I'm quite confused about the nature and role of New Wave, and the only other option that comes to mind is that sometimes it acted as a budget label, but I have no proof about it... I'm still hoping that some reader of this blog can shed some light on the subject, thank you!



The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) were an Hong Kong prolific studio band that reached a cult status in the region during the late 60s / early 70s. Their name has probably been borrowed from the Teisco / Kawai manufactured Apollo model guitar from that time period.

They recorded a lot of instrumental albums, a few of them for New Wave Record Co. (新風) and most of them for Life Records (麗風). They were also featured as a backing band on countless releases by popular singers like Teresa Teng (鄧麗君), Pancy Lau (劉鳳屏), Frances Yip (葉麗儀), Stella Chee (奚秀蘭), etc. It should be noted that in the early days of the label, they were the only available band at Life headquarters, so this comes as no surprise...

Their own instrumental records, often arranged by band leader Oscar Young (楊道火), a key-figure in the Hong Kong / Singapore music scene of the late 60s / early 70, usually feature a prominent guitar sound that has spawned a lot of imitators.

Labeled as a guitar music album on the cover, "Hong Kong Fascination" mainly features the electric guitar as solo instrument but, as usual in the Far-East instrumental albums of this period, the organ plays an important role in the arrangements, aptly providing accompaniment and counterpoint. On this release we can also hear a few traditional Chinese instruments, mostly mallet and assorted percussions, flutes, etc. A couple of tracks also include brief saxophone solos.

For the English translation of the song titles I used on-line tools. The results are not perfect - to say the least - but they give more than a rough idea.

By the way, I would be really grateful if someone could help me with this release: I need a correct translation of the songs titles. If you can help and share your knowledge please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!


"Hong Kong Fascination - Apollo 12 Guitar Music" (美麗的香港) contains the following tracks:

01. 今天不回家 [Not Coming Home Today] (2:45)
02. 新桃花江 [The Return of the Peach Blossom River] (2:56)
03. 美麗的香港 [Beautiful Hong Kong] (2:16)
04. 萍水相逢 [Chance Meeting of Strangers] (3:03)
05. 上山崗 [On the Hillock] (2:19)
06. 淚的小花 [Flower of Tears] (2:49)
07. 像霧又像花 [Like Fog and Like a Flower] (2:29)
08. 戀愛的季節 [The Season of Love] (2:20)
09. 姑娘十八一朵花 [A Girl at 18 Is Like a Flower] (2:43)
10. 天上人間 [Heaven On Earth] (2:34)
11. 痴情恨 [Beloved Unfaithful] (3:43)
12. 你幾時回家 [When Will You Come Home?] (2:08)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in April/May 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



Here's what I discovered searching information about the music included on this release.

Originating from the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, the original version of "今天不回家" (Not Coming Home Today) was a huge success for 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong) in 1969. Later on the song was also covered by other popular singers like 櫻花 (Sakura, available here) and 张露 (Chang Loo, available here).

I am not sure if "新桃花江" (The Return of the Peach Blossom River) is a traditional piece or an original track, anyway it was successfully recorded in 1968 by 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here) and 凌雲 / 櫻花 (Rita Chao and Sakura, available here).

The title track, "美麗的香港" (Beautiful Hong Kong), is also one of the best cuts on the album. I was inclined to think that this was an instrumental rendition of the same song recorded by 潘迪華 (Rebecca Pan) in 1969, but I can't notice much resemblance... Do you?

"萍水相逢"(Chance Meeting of Strangers) is a song originally performed in 1960 by 吳鶯音 (Wu Yingyin), one of the Seven Great Singing Stars. Through the years the song has been covered many times, you can listen to the original version here.

I wasn't able to discover the exact origin of "上山崗" (On the Hillock)... It seems that during the late '60s this song was recorded by many singers - among them 吳剛 (Wu Kang) - and also by a few bands as an instrumental piece, including The Stylers (...available here...) and The Saints (...here).

Between 1969 and 1970 "淚的小花" (Flower of Tears) was recorded by so many artists, and I really couldn't find out who is the very first performer... I suppose that the originator could be 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) or 陳芬蘭 (Chen Fern Lan, here) - but who knows... Even The Quests recorded their own instrumental version in 1970.



At the end of the '60s, "像霧又像花"(Like Fog and Like a Flower) was another huge hit for 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong), you can listen to the original version here. The song was later covered by many other singers, including a young 徐小鳳 (Paula Tsui), available here, and 黃鸝 (Wong Li), available here.

"戀愛的季節" (The Season of Love) is the Mandarin version of a famous late '60s Japanese song. Among others, it was performed - once again - by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong), 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, available here), 孔蘭薰 (Kong Lan Xun, here), and 劉鳳屏 (Pancy Lau, here).


"姑娘十八一朵花"(A Girl at 18 Is Like a Flower) is a 1966 movie starring 陳寶珠 (Connie Chan), 呂奇 (Lui Kei) and 薛家燕 (Nancy Sit). The original theme song was covered, among others, by 刘韵 (Yun Liu, available here) and 鄧麗君 (Teresa Teng, here),

The original version of "天上人間" (Heaven On Earth), was probably recorded first by actress and singer 李麗華 (Li Li-Hua) sometimes during the '40s / '50s; here's a link to her performance. The song resurfaced during the late '60s, and both Maurice Patton & The Melodians and 楊小萍 (Yang Xiao Ping) recorded their versions in 1968.

I really have no idea about who performed the original version of "痴情恨" (Beloved Unfaithful), but in the late '60s and early '70s many of the usual suspects recorded it, among them we remember 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong, available here) and 黃鸝 (Wong Li, here).

The album closes with "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?). I wasn't able to find much information about this song... I speculate that the original was performed by 劉鳳屏 (Pancy Lau, available here), but 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong) and 周玲寶 (Chow Ling Po) also recorded it around the same time...


Here's some of my favourite tracks taken from "Hong Kong Fascination", please enjoy "今天不回家", "美麗的香港", "萍水相逢", "上山崗", "戀愛的季節", "姑娘十八一朵花" and "你幾時回家"!
















If you enjoyed this post, I'd like to remind you that I already dedicated to the New Wave Record Co. (新風) a few entries.

A few more information about The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) and New Wave Record Co. (新風) is available here:

http://blog.roodo.com/muzikland/archives/2512021.html

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1638765-Apollo-The-2

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E5%A4%AA%E9%99%BD%E7%A5%9E%E6%A8%82%E9%9A%8A

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

http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/hong-kong/

http://www.radiodiffusion.net/extra/Apollo_Guitar_Ad.jpg

http://rateyourmusic.com/label/new_wave_record_co_



I'm still struggling to find somebody who can help me with translations:

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!

Friday, 19 May 2017

THE GALLAHADS "SILENTLY / BARRACUDA" (1958) [featuring VINNIE BELL on guitar]



Recently I took care about Vinnie Bell's debut single and album, both released in 1960. Before I proceed with his following solo releases, I think it's worth exploring a few singles released by other groups on which he guested during the previous years.

These records feature Bell's guitar mastery - sometimes also crediting him as a composer - and are important because they present the first recorded evidences of his tricks and effects.

The first post in this mini-series is dedicated to The Gallahads "Silently b/w Barracuda", a single released in 1958, which - as far as I know - is the earliest record featuring Vinnie Bell - credited as Vincent Gambella, his birth name - on guitar.

For a detailed biography of Vinnie Bell, I suggest that you read this other post of mine.

The Gallahads biography is available here on the great White Doo-wop Collector blog.


The Gallahads, circa 1956


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

01. Silently (2:11)
02. Barracuda (2:26)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in March 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



Produced by Lee Schapiro and featuring an orchestra conducted by Billy Mure, "Silently b/w Barracuda" was released by Vik, then a subsidiary of RCA, with catalogue number 4X-0332 sometimes during the summer of 1958. Unfortunately the copy in my possession is housed in a plain white sleeve, but at the time of release it was probably offered in a company sleeve similar to the one that I tried to faithfully reconstruct as the opening image of this post.

In France, the two songs were included on the first side of a four tracks EP entitled "Barracuda", released in 1959 by RCA with catalogue number 75.467. The tracks on the flipside, namely "Steady Man" and "Best Wishes", were both culled from this other single. It is interesting to note that the Bell-driven instrumental track "Barracuda" - which didn't feature any vocals from The Gallahads - was given more prominence than their Doo-wop numbers.



Side A features "Silently", a song composed by Dick Wolf and Billy Mure;this catalog of copyright entries returns a "26 June 1958" as registration date. The song was briefly reviewed in the August 9, 1958, issue of The Cash Box magazine: «The boys work vocally on this end as they present a shuffle beat ballad with Jack Vincent in the lead. Gal chorus accompanies the group's hushed vocal technique.»

Side B offers "Barracuda", which according to the same catalog mentioned above, was written by Marilyn Christina, Arlene Davis and Grace Brown and was copyrighted on "3 July 1958". The center label includes a "Featuring Vincent Gambella" credit but doesn't mention his instrument. The following short review is taken, once again, from The Cash Box magazine; it praises Bell's guitar work but wrongly assigns its merit to the group: «The Gallalads display their instrumental talents on an excellent cha cha item that could take off. Side has a number of fascinating instrumental gimmicks and a wonderful dance beat.»


Vinnie Bell in the early '60s


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy!






More information about The Gallahads and Vinnie Bell is available here:

http://whitedoowopcollector.blogspot.com/2009/02/gallahadsthe-morning-mail.html

http://www.rocky-52.net/chanteursg/gallahads.htm

http://doo-wop.blogg.org/the-gallahads-1-a116516180

https://www.discogs.com/artist/3790300-The-Gallahads-2

http://www.vinniebell.com/

http://www.spaceagepop.com/bell.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinnie_Bell

http://www.danguitars.com/VINCENT_BELL.html

https://www.discogs.com/artist/353572-Vinnie-Bell


If you have any other useful information about 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!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

SCOTT WALKER "THE MOVIEGOER" (1972)

Well, after one year since the first entry, it's high time for another chapter in the short series dedicated to Scott Walker's 'lost' albums, namely "Scott Sings Songs From His T.V. Series", "The Moviegoer" and "Any Day Now", which have never been officially released on CD format.

This installment focuses on "The Moviegoer" and has been prepared by our friend and collaborator Peter Goldmark, a long-time fan and connoisseur of Walker's work. Now it's my pleasure to leave the floor to him.



If we approach the aesthetics of Scott Walker looking for a cohesive element, in its fifty-five years of constantly evolving musical production, maybe we can find it in his struggle to define some unsolved zones in human mind, with a melancholy and disenchanted feel.

Talking about his albums released between 1969 and 1974, in July 2000 Walker himself declared to Mojo journalist David Peschek that «[...] They're useless records, you know? And in a sense, I was thinking about this: maybe it's better to have had that awful gap (eight years from "'Til the Band Comes In" to the four songs he contributed to the reunited Walker Brothers' swansong "Nite Flights", and another six years before a full album, "Climate of Hunter") than to have made a lot of half-assed art records like a lot of people did. [...] To just not quite get up to the standard in the time, and to have that behind you, I would rather have gone off totally and experimented with standards and had that experience than not.»

However, these record have a lush orchestration, impeccable vocal performances and the choice of the songs mirrored Walker's attitude, at that time, to the textual and vocal representation of drifting lives and unsettled personae, even if in a more accessible way compared to his previous self-penned albums.

The absence of originals has been explained by Walker in a press-release interview in 1973; at the question whether this aspect meant he lost interest in writing, he answered the interviewer that «When you are younger you let it all out, writing about personal experiences, but when you get older you become careful, and now I'm very careful about the statements I make. I want my work to be to the point and as musical as possible, but it's very hard to get that combination.»



Born Noel Scott Engel on 9 January 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, and gifted with a really interesting voice, that later will evolve into the contradistinctive baritone timbre, the young Scott started with television appearances in 1957 and became a worldwide acclaimed star after moving to London and releasing for Philips with The Walker Brothers (...no one in the trio was really named Walker...), hits like "Love Her", "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" in 1965 and 1966.

For some months The Walker Brothers even overshadowed The Beatles in popularity becoming icons always followed by a crowd of adoring fans. However, this status never fitted with Scott's introspective personality and quickly drove him to some kind of paranoia that caused dependence from Valium, alcohol and drugs.

However, these initial months in London had a positive impact on Scott's artistic evolution: he started working with Philips arrangers refining an orchestral attitude that will remain a constant element of his solo works, even the more challenging recent ones.

From 1967 the Walkers disbanded and Scott started to produce his first solo albums, the critical acclaimed "Scott", "Scott 2", "Scott 3" and "Scott 4". In a period of feverish activity straddling the end of the '60s Walker also released "Scott Sings Songs from His T.V. Series" and "'Til The Band Comes In" at the turn of the decade.

In those years Scott worked in strict collaboration with the expert arranger John Franz, Philips A&R man, the young engineer Peter Olliff, and classical-trained directors like Wally Stott, Reg Guest and Peter Knight.

At the time the Philips studios, located at Stanhope Place, near Marble Arch, were the only British alternative to EMI's Abbey Road sound, with a recognizable intimate symphonic approach, influenced by impressionist composers like Debussy, Delius, Satie and Bartók, and blended with some jazzy influence.

This trademark sound gave its best results in some of Walker's seminal songs like "Montague Terrace (In Blue)", "It's Raining Today", "Big Louise" and "Boy Child" and it was the ideal ambient for Scott's dark and introspective lyrics, inspired by the Belgian singer Jacques Brel and French existentialist novelists and philosophers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre.


Scott Walker as he appears on the front cover of "The Moviegoer", 1972.


"The Moviegoer" contains the following tracks:

01. This Way Mary (Theme from "Mary, Queen of Scots") (2:36)
02. Speak Softly Love (Theme from "The Godfather") (3:58)
03. Glory Road (Theme from "W.U.S.A.") (3:36)
04. That Night (Theme from "The Fox") (3:05)
05. The Summer Knows (Theme from "Summer of '42") (3:25)
06. The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti (Theme from "Sacco e Vanzetti") (3:34)
07. A Face in the Crowd (Theme from "Le Mans") (3:28)
08. Joe Hill (Theme from "The Ballad of Joe Hill") (2:33)
09. Loss of Love (Theme from "Sunflower") (3:12)
10. All His Children (Theme from "Never Give an Inch") (2:53)
11. Come Saturday Morning (Theme from "Pookie") (3:41)
12. Easy Come, Easy Go (Theme from "They Shoot Horses, Don't They") (3:02)

This is the short credits and personnel list of "The Moviegoer" as they are printed on the back of the sleeve:

Orchestra directed by Robert Cornford

Produced by John Franz

Engineered by Peter J. Olliff

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

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl and from various CD compilations between November 2016 and April 2017, and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Before burning this album on CD-R using the provided CUE file you must convert the original FLAC audio file to WAV format using an appropriate software. Please have a look here if you need some help.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.


Scott Walker and John Franz in the Philips Studio, date unknown

"The Moviegoer" was released in the U.K. by Philips with cat. number 6308 127 in October 1972. Housed in a simple cover, the album spawned no singles and was poorly promoted, so it is no surprise that it didn't chart.

Despite the lack of interest in this recording, the album was re-released sometimes in 1975 with a different cover on the Contour budget label.

The album, backed by producer John Franz and sound engineer Peter Olliff, the same team that arranged and produced Walker's highly praised previous solo albums for Philips, does not contain any original song. The idea to pick up movie themes, suggested by Franz and some of the label executives, also came in consequence to the crucial role that movies had in the development of Walker's personal musical and lyrical language. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman had a major influence on him and "The Seventh Seal", a song clearly inspired by the movie of the same title, was included on "Scott 4". The intimate and philosophical nature of European movies had a great role in the fascination for European culture in the American-born Scott, who had definitively left the United States in 1965.

The more relevant lack in the albums Walker released in the early '70s, can be found in his move from songwriting. The songs penned and released during Walker's tenure at Philips in the late '60s had a great originality resulting from a complex convergence of philosophical and poetical elements, blended with the backing of majestic classical-inspired orchestral arrangements provided by John Franz and directors like Reg Guest and Wally Stott.

A few years later, in a NME interview conducted by Phil McNeill in 1977, talking about "The Moviegoer" Walker explained that «at that time I had a new manager and he told me to get a big pad. So I had this place and suddenly I had all the records I wanted to buy and became very complacent. And I thought: “if they don't want me to write anything, fuck it.” So I just sat back and copped money for whatever they want me to do. If they want me to do movie themes, man, I would pick the best movie themes that I thought were possible and I would do them - Sinatra-type stuff. I’ll imitate anybody. It was done to that. Whatever needed to be done.»


Scott Walker in session, date unknown

The critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful "Scott 4", generated in Walker a strong dissatisfaction towards his audience. Maybe he asked himself if his solo albums, more sophisticated and explorative than his previous output with The Walker Brothers, had been well received for their musical and lyrical qualities, or simply for the stardom aura created around his public image originating from the days when he was a teenage idol during the first half of the '60s. So, he simply gave to his audience what the recording managers thought people wanted at that time, and preferred to focus on his personal life. As a result, in August 1972 he married Mette Teglbjaerg, a Copenhagen-born girl who had given him a daughter, Lee, born sixteen months before.

However, if we look from another perspective at Walker's second solo artistic period - which saw the release of "Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Series", "The Moviegoer", "Stretch" and "We Had It All" - we can find in his refusal to write original material a transition to the artistic process of elaboration of dramatic personae, probably the most cohesive element in his whole production.

After his 1967-1970 phase, where he used to elaborate a series of small portraits - short stories about solitude, alienation from social training values and disillusion about love - since the late '70s he started to find a way to represent other themes, in a complete symbiosis between text and music.

Walker's second period and his estrangement from songwriting is originated by a crisis, a clash, a tension between the delicate, melancholic short songs he wrote in his twenties and the Avant-garde late works about torture, political dictatorship and sadomasochistic slavery of the human self, often described as a virus.

It is impossible to imagine a sudden passage from songs like "Rosemary" or "Big Louise" and songs like "The Electrician" or the whole "The Drift" and "Bish Bosch" albums, but it's easy to see a coherent evolution in his artistic struggle to elaborate the blending of text, voice and music as a persona, if we consider that this word derives from a particular kind of mask - named "per-sonar" in Latin, which translates into "resonate between an object" - used by actors in ancient Rome to empower their voice in theatres.



Side 1 opens with "This Way Mary", a John Barry composition from the 1971 British film "Mary, Queen of Scots", with added lyrics by Don Black. Its dreamy arrangement features the sound of bar chimes, an almost obsessive element in Walker's discography. We don't know if the recurrent use of bells and ringing percussion in Walker's production was started in the '60s by Philips arrangers, or if they were asked to made a relevant use of those instruments by him... As a matter of fact, in a 2014 New York Times interview, talking about the "Herod 2014" song included on "Soused", Walker declared that the constant repeating of the sound of a bell in that song represents the self of a mother struggling to protect her babies from the biblical violence of the modern world.

"Speak Softly Love", the universally known love theme from Francis Ford Coppola's gangster movie "The Godfather", was written by Nino Rota with lyrics by Larry Kusik and was originally performed by Andy Williams in 1972.

With "Glory Road", a Neil Diamond song about the illusive American dream originally included on the soundtrack to the 1970 WUSA movie, the album makes its first approach to Country music. Up to this point, this is is a totally unprecedented ingredient in Walker's discography, but this song still manages to blend well with the other more sophisticated arrangements on the album.

Lalo Schifrin's "That Night", with lyrics written by Norman Gimbel, was originally sung by Sally Stevens. The song is taken from the 1967 American drama film "The Fox", an adaptation from the D. H. Lawrence short novel of the same title. After a beautiful orchestral introduction, the singing rise from a slow-paced, luminous strings texture sustained by elegant piano jazzy chords.

"The Summer Knows", the main theme from the 1971 film "Summer of '42", a Michel Legrand number with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, has a beautifully experimental orchestral arrangement, repetitive, nervous and evolving from a block of sound to another. The influence of this orchestral approach is clearly recognizable on Walker's "The Drift" released in 2006.

"The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti", a song written by Joan Baez and Ennio Morricone for the 1971 Italian-French film "Sacco e Vanzetti", is a dramatic letter written by an innocent political prisoner to his father, sustained here by an intricate but very functional crescendo arrangement.



Side 2 starts with "A Face in the Crowd", another Michel Legrand composition with lyrics penned by Alan Bergman, that was originally sung by one Peggy Taylor Woodard. The song is taken from the 1971 film "Le Mans", starring Steve McQueen; it has an Ambient strings arrangement and a general mood not too far from the best Walker/Franz/Olliff productions of the '60s.

Although credited to Stefan Grossman on the album's sleeve and centre label, "Joe Hill" is a poem written by Alfred Hayes around 1930, which was set to music by Earl Robinson in 1936. One of the most famous union songs, it tells the story of Joe Hill, a labor activist and songwriter executed in the state of Utah on a murder charge usually considered to be a frame-up. In a version performed by Grossman, it has been used in the 1971 Swedish-American production film "The Ballad of Joe Hill". Musically speaking, it is a much lighter episode if compared to those that preceded it, a very simple Pop Country song that completely differs in mood and arrangement from the rest of the album.

"Loss of Love", from the Italian film "Sunflower", starring Sophia Loren, is an elegant Henry Mancini composition which was later adapted by Bob Merrill and performed by Johnny Mathis in 1971. After "Wait Until Dark" on "Scott 2" and "The Hills of Yesterday" on "'Til the Band Comes In", this was the third time that Walker included a rework of a Mancini song on an album.

"All His Children", another Mancini tune from the 1970 American drama film "Sometimes a Great Notion" a.k.a. "Never Give an Inch" with lyrics written - once again - by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, was a successful single for Charley Pride. Sunny and clean in its arrangement, this is another Country influenced track. Unfortunately such influence also involves Walker's accent with unconvincing results.

"Come Saturday Morning" from the 1969 film "The Sterile Cuckoo" (...or "Pookie" in the U.K., as reported in the liner notes of the album...) starring Liza Minelli, was written by Fred Karlin and Dory Previn. The song was first performed by The Sandpipers, with Minelli recording her own version shortly after, and was also covered with excellent results by Chet Baker. The version found on "The Moviegoer" is a return to an elegant melancholic strings arrangement. Although being less adventurous or experimental than other tracks on the album, it starts and ends with atonal strings episodes: this is another clear link between early Walker's songs like "It's Raining Today" or "Plastic Palace People" and his more recent albums.

"Easy Come, Easy Go", the only jazzy tune on the album, was written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman in 1934, and has become a well-known standard since then. The song was used on "They Shoot Horses Don’t They?" starring Jane Fonda, a successful Sidney Pollack's film released in 1969. Here it is treated with the usual sensibility and delicacy by Franz, and is properly chosen as the closing number.


Scott Walker in the very early '70s.


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album; here's "This Way Mary", "Speak Softly Love", "The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti", "Joe Hill", "All His Children" and "Come Saturday Morning", enjoy!













...and as a bonus, here's two playbacks of "Loss of Love" and "We Could Be Flying" as performed by Scott Walker for an episode of "2 G's and the Pop People" broadcasted by LWT in the United Kingdom on July the 1st, 1972!






More information about "The Moviegoer" and Scott Walker is available here:

http://www.4ad.com/artists/83

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Walker_%28singer%29

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/scott-walker-mn0000253142/biography

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31750-Scott-Walker

https://www.facebook.com/scottengelwalker/

http://www.scottwalkerfilm.com/blog/

http://diffuser.fm/the-roots-of-indie-scott-walker/

http://www.treblezine.com/celebrate-the-catalog-scott-walker/

http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Scott_Walker

http://fsu.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/fsu%3A183744

http://147mark.tripod.com/scottwalkercollectorspage/index.html

http://www.anthonyreynolds.net/writing_walker_brothers/walker_brothers01.htm

http://www.anthonyreynolds.net/writing_walker_brothers/Scott_Walker-Timeline_2008-06-25.pdf

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan13/articles/scott-walker.htm

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201307/?read=interview_walker

http://thequietus.com/articles/16411-scott-walker-interview-sunn-o-soused

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/nov/23/scott-walker-interview

https://vk.com/pages?oid=-611497&p=Mojo%2C_%D0%B8%D1%8E%D0%BB%D1%8C_2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moviegoer_(album)

https://www.discogs.com/Scott-Walker-The-Moviegoer/master/68206

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-moviegoer-mw0000845073

https://genius.com/albums/Scott-walker/The-moviegoer

http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/scott_walker/the_moviegoer/

http://www.adriandenning.co.uk/scott.html#tm


If you have any other useful information about 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!

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