Notes On The Tracks
Our introduction comes courtesy of Derek Taylor, in conversation with a young girl named Betty, hairdresser to The Beatles. In an amusing exchange we come to learn more about the infamous Beatle mop. Taylor is all eloquent charm in his enquiries: “It is possibly invidious to compare their hair… but who has the softest hair of the four of them?” It is a question that cuts to the heart of the their ‘cuts, whilst you listen to these hip musical cuts. It also allows for the weak play on the words in the title of this compilation. Old Rope is nothing if not laboured.
The music proper kicks off with P.J Proby‘s ‘Hold Me’, with the influence of early Beatles fully evident.
‘Hold Me’ gives way to ‘Hold On’ by Chicago group The Radiants, a rampaging Northern tune with driving bass, swelling strings and falsetto hoots reminiscent of Rotary Connection. The last of four charting singles, ‘Hold On’ reached 68 in 1968 before the group were shamefully dropped by the Chess record label.
Staying in 1968, Betty Wright‘s ‘Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do’ is a slinky funky slow soul number with fat brass and a moral tone. Taken from the album My First Time Around, ‘Girls…’ was Wright’s debut single. She was fifteen years old.
That year also saw acid-fuzz fuelled ‘A Question of Temperature’ hit the Billboard charts, though the disc had in fact been released late in 1967. Taking their name from a New York nightclub, this was the debut single from a New Jersey band after sensibly changing their name from the decidely shit “Adam” to the rather more brilliant The Balloon Farm. The 45 suffered the ignomy of being issued with not one, but two typographical errors on the label (the title and the producer’s surname).
Having served in a band with both David Crosby and Roger McGuin, Gene Clark has often been overlooked. ‘Life’s Greatest Fool’ is a country-tinged mellow number from Clark’s 1974 solo LP No Other. Lavishly produced and the last of his solo work to consist entirely of self-penned material, it was a critical and commercial failure at the time of release, though is now regarded by some to be his ‘masterpiece’.
The Third Degree‘s reworking of ‘Mercy’ may be a more vibrant soul stomper than Duffy’s original, but appears to have won over few on the soul / mod forums of the internet. Out on the dance floors, however, it has sounded powerful and exciting – a modern hit.
From a modern dancefloor filler to an old-school Twisted Wheel favourite, Major Lance‘s excellently titled ‘Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um’.
The Crystals were infamously unavailable to record ‘their’ number one hit record, ‘He’s a Rebel’, forcing Phil Spector to use the uncredited Blossoms instead under the Crystals banner. The Track had been offered to The Shirelles, who turned it down because of its anti-establishment lyrics. Though not the definiteve version, Helen Shapiro‘s take is good fun.
Sugar Pie DeSanto not only has an excellent stage name, she also has an excellent real name. Umpeylia Balinton was born to an African American mother and Filipino father. ‘Soulful Dress’ was one of numerous choice cuts for the Chess label.
‘Good Road Blues’ is a nice slice of forties R’n’B, a recording by Wright Holmes for Roy Milton’s Miltone Records.
Gene Clark makes another appearance with sixties rhythm and blues number, ‘Boston’, the opening track from his debut solo LP Echoes (with the Godsin Brothers). Released in 1967 the album has, ironically, echoes of the Byrds.
The Lorelei is both a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine in Germany and the name of one of the associated mythical Rhine Maidens, water spirits who lured sailors to their doom. It is also the name of this funky soul group. ‘S.T.O.P’, a big hit at the famous Golden Torch nightclub in Stoke on Trent, was produced by Emil LaViala and released on Columbia in 1971.
Currently based in France, Daby Toure grew up in Boutilimit, Nouakchott, and Casmance before going to live with an uncle in the village of Djeole, near Kaedi, on the banks of the Senegal river. His story is too long for these notes, but ‘Banta’ is a laid-back melodic an enjoyable end to our compilation.