Kendra Steiner Editions

July 8, 2014

“Portobello Explosion, Part Two” (Particles CD, UK)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:44 pm

various UK beat bands, 1966-70

PORTOBELLO EXPLOSION, PART TWO (Particles Records, UK…..compilation CD)

portobello 2

The new PORTOBELLO EXPLOSION series, on the Particles label, best-known for the sister series PICCADILLY SUNSHINE (although clearly from the same whack-a-mole folks who were responsible for Past & Present and Psychic Circle and other related labels), should excite those who have been waiting for more prime collections of third-and-fourth string British beat bands from the mid-sixties. While there is nothing here to match Crawdaddy Simone, of course, an album like this is clearly following in the tradition of THE DEMENTION OF SOUND, PEBBLES VOL. 6, and the BROKEN DREAMS series back in the early 80’s. Hundreds if not thousands of obscure singles from Swinging 60’s Britain have been reissued since then, and it’s wonderful to see that the well has not yet gone dry. Bands such as THE LOOT or THE UNTAMED are superstars compared with the artists on this album, most of whom recorded one to four singles in the 66-68 period and made little impact. Some have connections with members of more successful bands (Mike Hugg, John DuCann) or producers/moguls such as Larry Page or Robert Stigwood, but Page and Stigwood no doubt subscribed to the belief that if you issue 20 singles in the next three months, you have four times as much chance for a hit than if you issue 5 singles in that same period, and we are all the richer for it. This was a magic period in musical history, something WAS in the air or maybe in the water, and even a little-known beat band from the provinces who came to London to record a one-off single knew that this was their big chance….maybe THEY could be the next Mindbenders or the next Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich or the next Nashville Teens. And just like as in Memphis 1956 or Los Angeles 1966, even the weekday bands at the more off-the-beaten-path clubs had that ineffable SOMETHING magical that makes for great rocknroll. It was a super-competitive field, and you had to bring your “A-game” to survive at all, even on a marginal level.

And it’s the margins were are scouring here. The best known band is Liverpool’s MOJOS, with a lesser-known but fine later single, but beyond that, the best known outfits are such obscure aggros as Studio Six and The Executives (the latter best known from featuring future NME editor Roy Carr), and the rest are probably just names we’ve seen in passing on some internet discussion list or in passing in Flashback magazine. Trust me, the compilers of this volume no doubt listened to hundreds of crappy pop records to find the 20 solid beat nuggets found here. Yes, the material usually sounds like B-sides and nothing screams “instant classic” like the first time you heard “Rosalyn” or “Children of the Sun,” but when laid back to back in one 20-track set, chosen with the elegance and taste of the best club DJ, every track comes into full bloom and really, it’s one stunner after another, particularly on multiple plays.

The exhaustive liner notes (as with previous Psychic Circle and Past & Present compilations) tell you everything that’s known among uber-collectors about these bands, and since few of us (particularly those of us in North America) would ever see any of these singles show up in used record stores or at flea markets or at record fairs (the dealers at the latter would probably pull these in advance for their “special customers” should any of these 45’s ever surface), just view this as a beautifully packaged, thoroughly annotated stack of 20 precious singles from the mid-and-late period of UK Beat Music’s Golden Age.

I’ve deliberately NOT mentioned bands like The Creation or The Yardbirds or The Animals….if you go into an album like this with those kind of expectations, you are sure to be let down. This is the flotsam and jetsam of that era, but hey…..the table scraps of the most amazing banquet of all time are going to be quite tasty for those of us not invited to the party, aren’t they?

Volume One of this series was just as good, and I for one am hoping the series goes into many volumes, as many as Piccadilly Sunshine, which just issued Volume 18,  if I’m not mistaken. The mid-and-late sixties was a time when Britain ruled the world in terms of style and rock-and-roll culture and hip influence, and I say that as an American who values our own cultural output and has avidly collected obscure US 60’s records for decades. And one thing I should add is that most (though not all) of this material is original or written for the bands by an outside songwriter,  not covers of songs we already know—-although the brassy Mod cover of  “Call My Name” by Edentree (from 1970, believe it or not) is a gem—- so it’s wall to wall FRESH material.

Can’t wait for Part Three….and Part Ten!   20 slabs of Prime late-period British Beat (some with horns,  in the mod-soul tradition) you’ve probably not heard before (except for the Mojos track)….ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!!!!

TRACK LISTING:

JIGSAW    LET ME GO HOME 1968 /

JASON JAMES    COUNT ME OUT 1967 /

STEVE HAMMOND    THE WORLD IS WRAPPED AROUND MY NECK 1966 /

MADE IN SHEFFIELD RIGHT SATISFIED 1967 /

WEST POINT SUPERNATURAL    NIGHT TRAIN 1967 /

STUDIO SIX    PEOPLE SAY 1967 /

PEEPS    TRA LA LA 1966 /

STORM    LET’S GO DANCING 1969 /

EDENTREE    YOU ARE ALL I NEED 1970 /

POP WORKSHOP    LOVE IS A ONE WAY HIGHWAY 1968 /

MARY McCARTHY    YOU KNOW HE DID 1967 /

FALLING LEAVES    TOMORROW NIGHT 1966 /

JIG-SAW BAND    I’VE GOTTA GET ME SOME MONEY 1968 /

THE MOJOS    SEVEN PARK AVENUE 1968 /

SHERE KHAN    NO REASON 1969 /

PEEPS    THE LOSER WINS 1966 /

EDENTREE    CALL MY NAME 1970 /

CURIOSITY SHOPPE    SO SAD 1968 /

THE EXECUTIVES    I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU 1967 /

JIGSAW    LOLLIPOP AND GOODY MAN 1970

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