@1975 UK 1st Pressing
Al Green’s Greatest Hits is a 1975 greatest hits hits release by soul singer Al Green. In 2003, the album was ranked number 52 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The release has consistently ranked as one of the best executed ‘greatest hits’ albums in history.
I Second That Emotion (12” Singles)
@1981 UK Pressing
“I Second That Emotion" is a 1967 song written by Smokey Robinson and Al Cleveland. First charting as a hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on the Tamla/Motown label in 1967, “I Second That Emotion” was later a hit single for the group duet Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, also on the Motown label. Japan’s got their own success with the cover of the song.
@1981 UK Pressing 12”
The tracks “Deviation” and “Sometimes I feel So Low” were released as singles in certain countries, the latter as a double A-side with a re-recorded version of “Adolescent Sex” (the title track of their first album, re-recorded during the sessions for this album). It became Japan’s first European hit single, and the re-recorded version of ‘Adolescent Sex” is featured on the 1981 compilation album Assemblage. Both tracks were mixed together to form “I Can’t Wait”, which was club hit for L’il Devious in 2003.
David Sylvian, Riuichi Sakamoto
@1984 UK Pressing 12”
Slow to find his feet as a solo artist, Sylvian instead lent his by-now instantly recognizable vocals to both the 1982 “Bamboo Houses” single and this track from the soundtrack to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring David Bowie and including a score from Sakamoto, whom Sylvian had met a few years prior when he was in Japan with Japan and Sakamoto was with the Yellow Magic Orchestra. The two have been regular collaborators ever since, but this gorgeous orchestral track found Sylvian venturing even further out of the box that others would hope to place him in. Sylvian had shown remarkable growth in just five years of recorded work, and he wasn’t slowing down.
@1981 UK Pressing 12”
As legend has it, when Sylvian came to L.A. he wanted to record one of his own tunes (“European Son,” which would become their next single), but the producer preferred to use one of his own and left Sylvian there with some completed tapes. When Moroder returned, he found that Sylvian had totally re-arranged the tune and had a set of lyrics ready. It was only one song, but that taste of the foreign, the collaboration, had set Sylvian’s mind open at full throttle, and in the next few years, the credibility of Japan grew as exponentially as Sylvian’s ambitions. The scruffy-haired glam days were behind them, and true art and sophistication was their aim, in image and on vinyl.
Life in Tokyo
@1981 UK Pressing 12”
“Life in Tokyo” was a flop when it was first released. It was re-released in 1981 and again in 1982, and did well both times, but the first time out of the gate, it was a failure. Regardless, it was to that point the most significant thing they had done, as it was recorded in Los Angeles in collaboration with the legendary Giorgio Moroder. On the surface, “Life in Tokyo” is a bit Moroder-by-the-numbers, the typical disco/rock he was so efficiently churning out those days, with Sylvian’s now-recognizable coo over top. But the fact that Sylvian was starting to branch out, to want to work with other producers and musicians whom he admired whether it worked on paper or not is significant and would be a hallmark of his career.
The Ship Album
@1972 US Pressing
The band’s full title was Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly (S.C.R.A) and they were formed half-way through 1971. They were an eleven piece outfit with two singers - Cheryl Blake and Peter Martin.
This band was massive with 11 band members at it height and they came from the UK, Oz and NZ. The band also incorporated various styles of rock and pop. They could rock with big band tracks similar to Blood, Sweat And Tears and then take it down a notch to small quiet love songs.
Some of the original band members were from Levi Smith’s Clefs which provided a valuable training ground for young players.
New Zealander, Mike “Mickey” Leyton became a member after leaving his band Sounds Unlimited (from Auckland). He married singer Lyn Barnett and they moved to Sydney in the late 1960s. In February 1971 Mickey had became a singer in a pub band called Small Chant (which over the course of 1971 was upgraded to become SCRA - Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly).
The Small Chant members were: Barrie Heidenreich - piano, Mickey Leyton - vocals, Wayne Ford - bass, Peter Martin – classical guitar and composer and Leon Isakson on drums. Peter was breaking his neck to play classical works after studies in Spain. Peter had also written a few songs including one called Roly Poly, which they played live but never recorded as Small Chant.
By mid 1971 Peter Martin had finally secured a permanent gig at the Coogee Oceanic Hotel in Sydney, but by that time Leon Isakson had joined the Delltones. Peter’s band went into the Oceanic with the old line-up of the Small Chant plus a few changes. Barrie had other commitments and Peter replaced him with his star pupil on guitar, Jim Kelly. Russell Dunlop came in on drums with Ian Bloxom on percussion and Dave Ellis on bass. Greg Foster (trombone and blues harp), Mick Kenny (trumpet) and Don Wright (sax) made up the front-line. Michael Lawler’s girlfriend, Sheryl Blake, made up the 3rd singer with the band along with Mickey Leyton and Ian Saxon. And so SCRA was formed. It was a huge 11-piece band and it all sounded fabulous. Dig Richards was so impressed that he decided to use SCRA on his next RCA album, Harlequin.
They even did a considerable amount of recording considering that they had only been together for a short period, and by early 1972 they had two singles and one album to their credit. The single “Roly Poly” from December 1971, reached #19 in the charts by April, 72. They also wrote and performed a rock version of Snow White and released a sizzling take of the venerable hit “C.C. Rider”. This is off their lesser known SCRA album on Metronome as opposed to their more popular Ship Album which came out in the States on Atlantic.
Meanwhile, at the end of February ‘72 the band left for England where they released an album entitled The Ship Album and a single from it, ‘It’s A Game’/’Love Is A Lonely Day’. The band eventually broke up in the later part of 1972 with three of the band members going on to eventually form Crossfire (Jim Kelly, Mick Kenny and Ian Bloxsom). For more information on Peter Martin, see his website [extracts from Tom Mix Oz Music and Noel McGrath’s Australian Encyclopedia of Rock p272].Album Reviews
SCRA was a jazz-rock outfit from Sydney, who were popular on the local club/festival circuit. Their first album combined a big band sound with some progressive leanings and a few pop moments. The album spawned three singles; C.C. Rider, Roly Poly and Sydney Born Man, which along with To Whom It May Concern represented its rockier more upbeat side.
The remaining material was mostly ballads and the rather restrained effort didn’t represent the power of their live act. The second was more in a bluesy progressive jazz-rock vein. Shades of Blodwyn Pig. It was mixed at The Hit Factory in New York during a U.S. tour. Their brand of ‘big band’ jazz-rock went down well in the States. This included the ten-minute, ambitious “Something Like The Feeling”. The album inevitably got a U.S. release, though in a single sleeve, not the gatefold version which graced the Australian public. They released one further 45 It’s A Game and then split. [extract from Dreams, Fantasies and Nightmares, Borderline Books, 2002]
Any good recollection of the song to share?
When In Spain
@1963 UK Mono Pressing
Through the first half of the 1960s, Cliff Richard was recording at a furious rate, turning out material not only for a seemingly endless stream of new U.K. singles, EPs, albums, and soundtracks, but also for the foreign markets where his appeal was strongest. What makes this last category especially appealing is that he actually sang in the language in question — Germany, Spain, France, and Italy were all granted a number of exclusive recordings, with the first-named earning the equivalent of six full albums worth of material between 1960-74. This vast corpus has since been compiled onto the Bear Family box set On the Continent; less well-documented is the fact that a number of these recordings were also made available in the U.K. History, after all, insists that prior to the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper, artist’s albums were essentially little more than random collections of songs. But Richard and producer Norrie Paramor had been scheming thematic — i.e. conceptual — albums since 1963, beginning with When in Spain. Recorded in Barcelona, When in Spain became Richard’s seventh album (soundtracks and compilations notwithstanding) in late 1963, at a time when Merseybeat was ensuring that his domination of the U.K. pop charts was undergoing its most serious challenge yet. The fact that he did not rise to the challenge, however, only amplifies his untouchability. As far back as his second album, 1959’s Cliff Sings, he had stated his intentions to rise above simple rock & roll; by the time of this album, he was ready to transcend pop altogether. Overlook the fact that the track listing is very much a beginner’s guide to the genre, the kind of thing which turns up on TV-advertised Latin Lovers Greatest Hits-type albums, and it is a beautiful album. “Perfidia,” with the Shadows in full flight behind him, an insistently percussive “Frenesi,” and the flirtatious “Maria No Mas,” all draw out some of his most majestic vocals, while the moments where he slips — a gently drifting, and clearly hesitant “Vaya Con Dios” — themselves possess a convincing fragility which only amplifies the album’s overall appeal. The same can be said for Richard’s occasionally suspect pronunciation, and the nagging suspicion that he might not be fully aware of what he’s singing about. Several songs from this album would be reprised with English lyrics on the artist’s next album, 1965’s eponymous set. But it’s a mark of When in Spain’s naïve strengths that neither “Sway” nor “Kiss,” “Magic Is the Moonlight” nor “Perfidia,” could ever improve on their Spanish language siblings. Of course, line this album up against the originals of the songs it features and Richard’s grand illusion promptly crumbles. He was banking, however, on the fact that nobody would ever need to do that — and you know what? He was right.
Bring Your Own Funk
@1977 US Pressing
Dennis Coffey produced this so he should be held responsible. The session guitarist attempts to disco-ize the Detroit quartet known for ballads featuring James “Sweet James” Epp’s innocent baritone, and zaps their identity. The bouncing “Super Lover” is the first mistake, Fantastic Four fans will not like it, nor will it win them any new ones. Coffey’s concept works a little better on “I Just Want to Love You,” a moderate tempo love song that’s slightly tarnished by gimmickry; Epps doesn’t lead, which is another problem. Three cuts — the title track, “Shout (Let It All Hang Out”) and “Sexy Lady” — guilty of 16 minutes of irritation. The Fantastic Four only sound like you expect on “Cold and Windy Night,” which Epps co-produced with Coffey; it borrows snatches of “The Whole World Is a Stage.” The “dynamic duo” also produced “Realize,” the only other track that is close to their established sound. Epps doesn’t lead, but a warm, sensitive tenor proves worthy on the lilting ballad, which makes “Realize” the best cut on B.Y.O.F. This was The Fantastic Four’s last and least satisfying LP.
@1966 US Pressing
My Love is an album released by Petula Clark; her first album to feature recording done in the United States, My Love was produced, arranged, and conducted by Tony Hatch. In the US, it was her fourth album licensed to Warner Bros. Records. After the single release of “A Sign of the Times” charted, new pressings of the album were titled A Sign Of The Times/My Love. 
The My Love album is widely considered to be a qualitative high point in Clark’s career. Record Collector called it “her musical masterwork” in May 1993. In 1990 Goldmine claimed that “this album encapsulates the sound of popular music in the mid 1960s.”
In the USA, My Love entered the Billboard 200 9 April 1966 to chart for twelve weeks with a #68 peak. Despite being the first of Clark’s Warner Bros. album releases to feature two major hits including the #1 title cut, My Love represented a drop in popularity from the precedent I Know A Place which has similarly charted lower than Clark’s US album debut Downtown demonstrating that Clark would be primarily successful as a singles artist. My Love did not reach the UK Top 20 Album chart. This was aside from the fact that the LP met with positive critical reaction at the time and growing esteem since.
Clark recorded the album at both Western Studios in Los Angeles - where the title cut was recorded - and also at Pye Studios in Marble Arch. Clark was backed at Western Studios by the Wrecking Crew while the session personnel at Pye Studios included drummer Bobby Graham, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, and the Breakaways vocal group.
My Love follows the formula of the Downtown LP in that it features almost all original material; the only cover version is the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out”. The balance of the album comprises nine Hatch compositions (with Clark a co-writer on five), the first known recording of Randy Newman’s “I Can’t Remember (Ever Loving You)”, and “If I Were a Bell”, allowing Clark her penchant for show tunes.
"Life and Soul of the Party" was intended to be the lead off single, but writer Tony Hatch was incorrectly told by an American that the term meant nothing in the States. Although not a single, the dramatic ballad "Just Say Goodbye" was performed by Clark on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Hollywood Palace". It appears on more than one of her greatest hits compilations.
Another 60s track to start the day.