Saturday, June 19, 2010

V.A.- Unearthed Merseybeat vol.1;2;3

Vol.1-From the Birth of Merseybeat to Psychedelia 1957-1968
Vol.2-The Golden Age 1961-1966
Vol.3-The Dawn of a New Era 1957-1968

Vol.1-From the Birth of Merseybeat to Psychedelia 1957-1968

Product Information

By "unearthed Merseybeat," Viper Records doesn't just mean obscure Merseybeat, but unheard Merseybeat. Virtually all of these 20 tracks were previously unreleased, though one of them (Wimple Winch's "Rumble on Mersey Square South") has made it onto some mod-psychedelic reissue compilations. The rest is a real cross-quilt of stuff, including a few big or relatively big names (Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Merseybeats, the Merseys, and the Swinging Blue Jeans), but largely devoted to the sort of artists only known by those who read the very small print of record collecting magazine articles about the British Invasion. Given the arcane sources, the sound quality is understandably variable, from release-quality excellence to tracks seemingly taken from the dustiest of acetates and decaying reel-to-reel tapes. Even taking that into account, this is a worthy and occasionally fascinating dig into the Merseybeat remains, most of this dating from the early- to mid-'60s, but stretching back as far as 1957 and as late as 1968. The best buried treasure is an alternate version of the Merseys' "Sorrow," minus the brass heard on the hit U.K. single, and in some ways preferable to the slicker, more familiar version. The Merseybeats' "The Things I Want to Hear (Pretty Words)" is a quite good 1964 outtake, just as good as most of their singles. Also in the classic, bouncy, melodic Merseybeat style, and pretty good tunewise, are the Kirkbys' "Don't You Want Me No More" and the Eyes' "She," the personnel on the latter including Beatles associate Klaus Voormann and Lewis Collins of the Mojos. A good deal of this CD, however, is far more in the rawer R&B or instrumental rock vein, including a 1961 cover of "What'd I Say" by Gerry & the Pacemakers and a very good cover of Buddy Holly's "I'm Gonna Love You Too" by Denny Seyton & the Sabres. At the more modern end of the scale, the Swinging Blue Jeans' 1966 outtake "Keep Me Warm ('Til the Sun Shines)" is more interesting harmony mod pop than much of what they were putting out on their official records at that point; the Kirkbys' "Dreaming" is a nice, mid-'60s Beatles-ish soundalike with flowery lyrics; Jason Eddie's "Mr. Busdriver" is fair late-'60s mod rock with a tinge of soul; and Wimple Winch's "Rumble on Mersey Square South" is a superb slice of ominous storytelling mod rock. Though it's an archival compilation, in a way this reflects the actual range of Merseyside '60s rock better than anthologies that concentrate on the well-known mid-'60s hit acts.
1. The Merseys - Sorrow (2:21)

2. Johnny Guitar/ Paul Murphy - She's Got It (1:31)

3. Denny Seyton And The Sabres - House Of Bamboo (2:24)

4. The Kirkbys - Don't You Want Me No More (2:12)

5. The Bo-Weevils - I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter (3:03)

6. King Size Taylor And The Dominoes - Good Golly Miss Molly (2:00)

7. The Remo Four - Trambone (1:37)

8. Gerry And The Pacemakers - What'd I Say (3:16)

9. The Merseybeats - The Things I Want to Hear (2:22)

10. The Four Just Men - Instrumental (2:14)

11. The Dennisons - Tutti Frutti (2:19)

12. The Newtowns - Tomorrow (2:50)

13. Denny Seyton And The Sabres - I'm Gonna Love You Too (2:00)

14. The Eyes - She (1:51)

15. Jason Eddie - Mr Busdriver (1:58)

16. The Remo Four - Walk Don't Run (2:00)

17. The Kirkbys - Dreaming (2:29)

18. King Size Taylor And The Dominoes - Fortune Teller (2:14)

19. The Swinging Blue Jeans - Keep Me Warm ( 'Til The Sun Shines ) (2:56)

20. Wimple Winch - Rumble On Mersey Square South (4:32)
Vol.2-Unearthed Merseybeat: The Golden Age 1961-1966

Product Information

Like its predecessor, this second volume of Unearthed Merseybeat is truly archeological in its excavation of 1961-1966 Liverpool-area rock. It's not just obscure; it's wholly unreleased, all 20 of the tracks seeing the official light of day for the first time here. Despite the presence of a few name bands (Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Merseybeats), it should be emphasized that this really is for serious collectors: the sound quality is sometimes rough, there are an abundance of cover versions of early American rock & roll songs, and nothing here is on the level of the best Merseybeat music, whether by the Beatles, Searchers, or lesser lights. Too, it's not even quite as good as Vol. 1 of the series, in part because of the presence of a number of so-so cover versions, in part because Vol. 1 likely creamed off the very best unreleased Merseybeat there is to be found. Nevertheless, it's a reasonably fun listen, and serious historians will relish the chance to hear those early recordings by Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and the Merseybeats in particular, as all of those tracks predate anything these bands released. Gerry Marsden and his boys are represented by a brace of 1961 cuts, those being a cover of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and the Marsden original "Why Oh Why," both recorded at a church hall; the Swinging Blue Jeans by live 1961 covers of Duane Eddy's "40 Miles of Bad Road" and the Ventures' "Walk Don't Run"; and the Merseybeats by home-recorded 1962 Everly Brothers tunes. The only other group most British Invasion fans might be likely to recognize are Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, Ringo Starr's pre-Beatles band, though Ringo was long gone by the time they did the 1965 version of Carl Perkins' "Lend Me Your Comb" here. While most of the rest serves as evidence of the naïve energy '60s Merseybeat outfits brought to rock & roll, what's missing, for the most part, is the outstanding original material that made the early recordings by the Beatles and some others from the region so significant. The welcome exceptions are the two mid-'60s numbers by the Kirkbys, which show them to be solid followers of the harmony-laden sounds of the Searchers and early Beatles.

1. The Kirkbys - Penny In My Pocket (2:34)

2. Denny Seyton & The Sabres - Karen (1:58)

3. Gerry & The Pacemakers - Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (2:30)

4. The Four Just Men - Friday Night (2:16)

5. The Swinging Blue Jeans - 40 Miles Of Bad Road (1:36)

6. The Merseybeats - All I Have To Do Is Dream (2:06)

7. The Delmonts - Before You Accuse Me (2:59)

8. The Newtowns - Please Stay (3:15)

9. The Bo-Weevils - Keep Your Hands Off Her (2:54)

10. The Four Just Men - La Bamba (2:33)

11. The Pathfinders - I'm Ashamed Of You Baby (2:42)

12. Denny Seyton & The Sabres - Big River (2:34)

13. Rory Storm & The Hurricanes - Lend Me Your Comb (1:48)

14. The Swinging Blue Jeans - Walk Don't Run (2:39)

15. The Cordes - Clarabella (3:07)

16. Gerry & The Pacemakers - Why Oh Why (3:02)

17. Earl Preston & The TT's - Bony Moronie (2:20)

18. The Merseybeats - So How Come (No One Loves Me) (1:55)

19. The Kirkbys - Bless You (1:54)

20. The Newtowns - Over The Rainbow (3:23)
Vol.3-Unearthed Merseybeat: The Dawn of a New Era 1957-1968

Product Information

The third volume in the Unearthed Merseybeat series follows the same pattern as the previous two editions, with 20 rare, mostly unreleased cuts whose value might be more archival than purely musical. There's some genuinely good music here, though, and even what isn't so good helps illuminate the dustier corners of the Merseybeat sound, which encompassed more than just the Beatles or bands playing in what most people think of as the Merseybeat style. If you do like that Merseybeat style, however, there's some of that here, and generally they're the best tracks on the CD. The Kinsleys, a spin-off of the Merseybeats, offer some archetypal catchy, innocuous Merseybeat with the 1964 recording "Do Me a Favour," which the Swinging Blue Jeans would rework a little later for their single "Promise You'll Tell Her." The Merseybeats themselves are represented by a good 1965 outtake of "Soldier of Love," though it isn't nearly as good as the Beatles' 1963 BBC version. Both of these tracks are in excellent studio quality, but Gerry & the Pacemakers' 1961 recording "Pretend," like some of the other material here, is taken from a muffled, lo-fi source. The same thing goes for the two cuts by the only other group here to have hits in the U.S., the Swinging Blue Jeans, which were cut live in 1960. Of the remaining songs, the best are the two psychedelic ones by Jimmy Campbell ("Michaelangelo") and his group the 23rd Turnoff ("Flowers Are Flowering"), which are among the few relics that show a Liverpool '60s band other than the Beatles convincingly moving into psychedelic pop. Some of the other tracks verge on the purely documentary in value, whether presenting average rock & roll covers or generic if modestly enjoyable early Merseybeat (the Four Originals, the Connoisseurs, Steve Day & the Kinsmen). Rarities by a couple more interesting names, however, are on hand with just-ex-Searchers-drummer Chris Curtis' unissued 1966 track "(Baby) You Don't Have to Tell Me" (shelved when the Walker Brothers issued the same song) and the Merseys' 1966 cover of Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love." Like the other volumes in this series, this one is given comprehensive liner notes explaining the origins of these obscurities.

1. The Kinsleys - Do Me A Favour (1:59)

2. Lance Fortune & The Firefighters - Come Go With Me (1:51)

3. The Merseybeats - Soldier Of Love (2:16)

4. The Connoisseurs - Make Up Your Mind (3:01)

5. The Swinging Blue Jeans - Once In A While (3:36)

6. Earl Preston & The TT's - Betty Jean (2:37)

7. Dale Roberts & The Jaywalkers - Daydream (2:25)

8. Earl Royce & The Olympics - Shake Your Tail Feathers (2:12)

9. Lance Fortune & The Firefighters - That'll Be The Day (2:12)

10. Gerry & The Pacemakers - Pretend (2:25)

11. The 23rd Turnoff - Flowers Are Flowering (3:19)

12. The Connoisseurs - I'm Lookin' Thru You (2:34)

13. The Four Just Men - Sticks And Stones (2:29)

14. The Four Originals - You Won't Be Leaving (2:24)

15. Chris Curtis - Baby You Don't Have To Tell Me (2:15)

16. The Merseys - Nothing Can Change This Love (1:59)

17. The Swinging Blue Jeans - Ain't What You Do (2:10)

18. Steve Day & The Kinsmen - Last Bus Home (2:23)

19. Focal Point - Sycamore Sid (2:42)

20. Jimmy Campell - Michaelangelo (2:08)
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