Monday, December 13, 2010

Various Artists: The Scene Series - Decca Originals

VA Decca Originals -  The UK Blues Scene

From the archives of Decca Records U.K. comes the Blues Scene (1999). This 25-track anthology covers the label's copious contributions to the 1960s renaissance of rhythm & blues-influenced rock. The movement would ultimately seed heavy metal supergroups such as Cream, Led Zeppelin and the seminal incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Fittingly, the revolving-door personnel of John Mayall's assorted Bluesbreakers are particularly worthy of note. They not only commence and conclude this compilation, but more importantly, Mayall also provided an entrée for a host of promising young talent such as Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Eric Clapton, and Aynsley Dunbar all of whom would eventually become internationally recognized icons. Among the Bluesbreaker's offerings presented here are the powerful instrumental "Curly," as well as "The Supernatural," which boasts the distinctive fretwork of Peter Green, "Steppin' Out" featuring Eric Clapton, and an incendiary early live take of "I Need Your Love." Another interesting facet is the wide spectrum of American legends whose association with Deccabrought their music to new generations and audiences. Selections from Eddie Boyd ("Key to the Highway," "Blue Coat Man," and "Dust My Broom"), Otis Spann ("Pretty Girls Everywhere"), as well as Champion Jack Dupree ("24 Hours," "Barrel House Women," and "Third Degree") are among the highlights. In the case of the latter title, Dupree had a little help from both Mayall and Clapton on this 1966 recording. The label also heralded artists such as Alexis Korner ("Early in the Morning" and "Night Time Is the Right Time") and Savoy Brown ("Taste & Try Before You Buy," "Train to Nowhere," and "Train to Nowhere") who would have a much stronger impact in Europe than in the States. As such, Blues Scene (1999) is a worthwhile assessment of Decca's vaults, and a valuable primer for the novice. Interested parties should also note the other entries in this series -- including the R&B Scene (1999) and the Northern Soul Scene (1999).

01 - bluesbreakers - curly
02 - eddie boyd - key to the highway
03 - john mayall & peter green - the super-natural
04 - otis spann - pretty girls everywhere
05 - eddie boyd - blue coat man
06 - champion jack dupree - third degree
07 - john mayall & eric clapton - steppin' out
08 - savoy brown - train to nowhere
09 - curtis jones - roll me over
10 - zoot money - get on the right track baby
11 - alexis korner - night time is the right time
12 - mae mercer - sweet little angel
13 - graham bond organization - strut around
14 - steve anglo & john mayall - long night
15 - davy graham - goin' down slow
16 - savoy brown - taste & try before you buy
17 - keef hartley - me and my woman
18 - eddie boyd - dust my broom
19 - champion jack dupree - barrel house woman
20 - rod stewart - i'm gonna move
21 - john mayall & peter green - double trouble
22 - champion jack dupree - 24 hours
23 - alexis korner blues inc. - early in the morning
24 - savoy brown blues band - early in the morning
25 - john mayall - i need your love [live]

VA Decca Originals - The Northern Soul Scene

The Northern Soul off-shoot of the British mod movement became the U.K. equivalent of the stateside Motor City- and Memphis-based R&B factions, thriving in clubs and discotheques across England. Over two dozen representative selections are gathered here, demonstrating the scene's unmistakable fusion of beat-based rock & roll with rhythm and blues. The vast majority of these musicians didn't garner significant international recognition, however, thanks to Decca Records' assorted sub-genre defining 'Scene' related titles, selections including Frankie & Johnny's optimistic affirmation "I'll Hold You" or the sexy proto-Philly score heard on Sonny Childe's "Giving Up on Love" are finally getting their due. The Motown sound was an obvious influence on Elkie Brooks' reading of "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)" from Truly Smith and "Ask the Lonely" by the Fantastics. Interestingly, the latter combo originated in the United States as the Velours prior to touring Europe as the Drifters. Clyde McPhatter -- another musical ex-patriot and ironically the co-founder of the real Drifters -- became a sizable solo artist in England during the mid- to late-'60s, recording right up until his untimely passing in 1972. The workout "Baby You Got It" is a perfect example of the funky style he ultimately became associated with. Similarly, Tom Jones ("Stop Breaking My Heart") and David Essex' ("So-Called Loving") would gain similar notoriety for their occasional blue-eyed soul leanings, such as those on this package. Mickey Moonshine's aggressive and slightly trippy "Name It, You Got It," Jon Gunn's darkly baroque "I Just Made Up My Mind," as well as Tony Newman's propulsive "Let the Good Times Roll" are among the adventurous excursions, allowing for a much more comprehensive summation of the Northern Soul Scene.

01 - frankie & johnny - i'll hold you
02 - david essex - so called loving
03 - flirtations - nothing but a heartache
04 - fearn brassy foundry - don't change it
05 - clyde mcphatter - baby you got it
06 - micky moonshine - name it you got it
07 - ronnie jones - my love
08 - fantastics - ask the lonely
09 - tom jones - stop breaking my heart
10 - billie davis - billy sunshine
11 - amen corner - our love (is in the pocket)
12 - danny williams - whose little girl are you
13 - eyes of blue - heart trouble
14 - bobby hanna - everybody needs love
15 - dave berry - picture me gone
16 - john e. paul - i wanna know
17 - elkie brooks - the way you do the things you do
18 - jon gunn - i just made up my mind
19 - adrienne poster - something beautiful
20 - brotherhood of man - reach out your hand
21 - sonny clide - giving up on love
22 - truly smith - my smile is just a frown
23 - stevie kimble - all the time in the world
24 - tony newman - let the good times roll
25 - bats - listen to my heart

VA- The Mod Scene Vol.2

This single-CD anthology contains 25 mid-'60s mod nuggets from the Decca Records vaults. It is a follow-up to the Mod Scene (1998) and is one of several installments in the U.K.-based label's Scene-related titles. The entire series is chock full of difficult-to-locate hits, misses, and sleeper classics, many making their respective digital debut. The ultra-hip and so-called swinging London scene was the unquestionable mod epicenter in terms of what was being played in some of the more adventurous discotheques and by DJs on Radio Caroline and BBC Radio One. Rather than being embraced by simply one genre or musical style, as the tunes on Mod Scene, Vol. 2 (1999), suggest, the slight angst that defined the mod spirit permeated pop, blues, jazz, R&B, and even folk. As is the case of "Liza Jane" by a pre-Bowie Davie Jones & the King Bees. Their take on the traditional refrain is nothing short of attitude-infused rebel rock. John Mayall's reading of Larry Williams' hit "Looking Back" is likewise laced with the same edgy groove that would translate onto the dancefloor. Among the better known names -- such as Them ("I Can Only Give You Everything"), Lulu ("Lies"), and the Small Faces ("Own Up Time") are some equally brilliant sides that all like-minded parties are encouraged to wrap their lobes around. In fact, it is these second-tier acts that are the primary focus. While the considerations of space prevent a truly detailed assessment, among the many zeniths are the Societie's upbeat rhythm and blues vibe on "Breaking Down," the countrified-lilt of "Can You Hear Me" from Powerhouse, and Zoot Money's boppin' instrumental and unofficial theme song, "Zoot's Suit." The fluidity of mod music spills over into the Questions' rave up "We Got Love," which is something akin to a slightly psychedelic Neil Diamond cut. There is also "Breakdown Blues," the A-side from the one-off Bread & Beer Band that featured contributions from one Reg Dwight, who was merely months away from reinventing himself as Elton John. Mod Scene, Vol. 2, is recommended without reservation for inclined ears. Enthusiasts should note the other Scene entries, including the first Mod Scene (1998), Psychedelic Scene (1998), Rock N' Roll Scene (1998), and Blues Scene (1999). ~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide

1. Small Faces - Own Up Time
2. The Birds - Leaving Here
3. Timebox - Beggin'
4. Davie Jones & The King Bees - Liza Jane
5. Alan Dean & His Problems - The Time It Takes
6. John Mayall - Looking Back
7. Zoot Money - Zoot's Suit
8. Graham Bond Organisation - Long Legged Baby
9. Bread & Beer Band - Breakdown Blues
10. Them - I Can Only Give You Everything
11. Jimmy Powell - Sugar Baby Part1-Part2
12. The Questions - We Got Love
13. The Cryin' Shames - What's News [Sic] Pussycat
14. The Presidents - Candy Man
15. The Quik - I Can't Sleep
16. Powerhouse - Can You Here Me
17. The Knack - She Ain't No Good
18. Pete Kelly's Soulution - Midnight Confessions
19. Unit 4+2 - Baby Never Say Goodbye
20. Lulu - Lies
21. Robb & Dean Douglas - Phone Me
22. Societie - Breaking Down
23. Double Feature - Baby Get Your Head Screwed On
24. Toby Twirl - Movin' In
25. The Attack - Try It

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