Saturday, May 21, 2016

Joe Brown - Sally Ann - Piccadilly (1963)

Sally Ann is a cool 3/4 time song written by famed manager to the stars Allen Klein. Joe Brown scored a deserved hit with this number in 1963. The production is gorgeous and thick, likely recorded in Pye Studios.

Joe Brown - Sally Ann - Piccadilly (1963) 

Joe Brown - Sally Ann - Piccadilly (1963) 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Françoise Hardy - Je Pensais (1965) & finding the elusive L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) boxed set

Full credit should go to Richie Unterberger's 1998 book, Unknown Legends of Rock n' Roll, for introducing me to Françoise Hardy. Pre-Internet, it was difficult to find her music aside from a few CD compilations at Tower Records in New York City. What I was really after was a boxed set called L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) released in 1995. Unfortunately, the boxed set was extremely limited and I never saw it for sale. The box was ideal, because it contained Hardy's complete French recordings for Vogue Records from 1962 - 1967. Fortunately, a lot has changed since the late 1990s. Françoise Hardy's albums have been reissued with wonderful packaging, including rare recordings made in other languages. Occasionally, L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) pops up on eBay for ridiculous prices. After seeing another one appear on eBay this spring for $450, I decided to go on a scavenger hunt. The original boxed set contained 83 songs on 4 CDs. My question: Is there anything on L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) that has not been reissued since? What songs am I missing? Is it worth buying the 1995 boxed set?

Françoise Hardy - L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) boxed set

The answer? It has all been reissued. It is not worth buying the 1995 boxed set unless you are a die hard collector who needs to complete a collection of physical media. In fact, 79 of the 83 tracks appear on a 2009 boxed set called La Collection 62-66. This later box contains 93 tracks, meaning the buyer gets 14 additional foreign language tracks. Best of all, copies can still be had for well under $100, but the buyer will still be missing 4 songs from the 1995 Complete Vogue Years box.

Françoise Hardy - La Collection 62-66
For you obsessive types who want it all, the last 4 tracks that appear on L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings) but NOT on La Collection 62-66 are:

Track 80 & 83: Voilá & Qui Peut Dire - These two tracks appear on the album Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp. This album can be purchased cheaply as a standalone or in a boxed set called 5 Albums Originaux, an extremely affordable and recommended boxed set covering her late 1960s and early 1970s output.

Françoise Hardy - Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp LP

Track 81: (Les) Petits Garçons - This track is on a number of compilations, including The Vogue Years. Like track 82, it also appeared on the vinyl Voilà EP.

Track 82: Au Fond Du Rêve Doré - This is the oddball song from L' Integrale Disques Vogue 1962/1967 (The Complete Vogue Recordings). Later, Françoise re-recorded this song with the band Air. The original version of Au Fond Du Rêve Doré is available on the vinyl Voilà EP, which is still pretty cheap on Discogs. Au Fond Du Rêve Doré has also been reissued on a few CDs, including 100 Chansons, Story 1965-1967 and Blues. Most of the CDs are out of print and vary in price. 

Françoise Hardy - vinyl Voilà EP

That's it. Is it worth going to all of this trouble to pursue Françoise Hardy's catalogue? Absolutely! Even nearly 20 years after first hearing her music, songs still pop up that surprise and intrigue me. Je Pensais showed up on a random mix last month and reminded me how great Françoise Hardy was and continues to be.

Françoise Hardy - Je Pensais from L'Amitié - Vogue Records (1965) 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (mono LP version & stereo Mustang Years version) - 1966 & The Reverb / Delay of the BF4

For years, I wondered how Bob Keane got the incredible reverb sound on the Bobby Fuller Four records. The secret was revealed in Keane's 2006 autobiography, The Oracle of Del-Fi on page 213 and 2014:

"One of the outstanding features - which was responsible for that great cavernous sound on Bobby's records - was our echo chambers, actually under the bank, two floors below our studio. The bank okayed the use of the unused vaults as echo chambers, and for several days, Bobby, and the band and I went to work "processing" the walls in the smaller rooms, even building some false walls so the sound wouldn't slap when reverberating. After placing speakers and microphones in the chambers to pick up the "reverb," we were ready to record what I believed would be the Bobby Fuller Four's first big hit for Del-Fi/Mustang."

The song that Keane was hoping would be the first big hit was Let Her Dance. Although it was a regional hit and a minor national hit, peaking at #45, success came shortly after with I Fought The Law. Interestingly, Keane explained that the band were not keen (sorry) to shed some of their raw, Buddy Holly inspired sound in favor of the Mustang productions reverb-o-rama. Although I understand the concern of the band, I feel that the bank vault reverb took the Bobby Fuller Four into modern, interesting and even innovative sonic territory. Their Texas recordings never came close to this.

Never To Be Forgotten is one of many great nearly-unheard songs by the BFF. The stereo version is really interesting, but the vocals are buried under a huge cloud of bank vault verb and echo. Only in the mono version, which was never reissued, can you hear the band clearly. Honestly, I love both versions. The stereo version sounds like a monstrous painting.

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (unavailable mono LP version) from I Fought The Law - Mustang (1966)

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (stereo remaster) from The Mustang Years - Mustang (1997)

Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law mono LP - Mustang (1966)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bern Elliott - Good Times - Decca & London (1964)

According to Wikipedia, we have Phil Smee, a music journo, to thank for coining the term Freakbeat in the 1980s to describe the harder edged, post-British Invasion pop sound. To my ears, Bern Elliott's Good Times definitely fits snuggly into the Freakbeat category, with the song's in-the-red soul vocals and spooky reverbed organ. Although Good Times never appeared on Greg Shaw's Bomp/AIP Freakbeat compilations, possibly because it had been reissued on larger labels by this time, it would have been a worthy addition.

Bern Elliott - Good Times - Decca & London (1964) 

Bern Elliott - Good Times - London (1964)