Amoeblog

One album wonders: Shop Assistants' Shop Assistants

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 18, 2014 07:31am | Post a Comment
SHOP ASSISTANTS - SHOP ASSISTANTS (1986) 

Shop Assistants band photo

In this week's installment of One album wonders we look at the Scottish band, Shop Assistants. On the eve of the Scottish independence referendum they were officially named on of the Top 50 Scottish bands of all time (see Top 50 Scottish bands of all time).

The band formed in Edinburgh in 1984, originally as Buba & The Shop Assistants). The original line-up was Annabel "Aggi" Wright (vocals), David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums), and Ann Donald (more drums). Stephen Pastel produced, provided the artwork, and sang back-up on their debut single, “Something to Do" on the very short-lived Villa21 Records. Soon after Pastel nicked Aggi for his own Glasgow-based band, The Pastels.


Aggi's replacement was Alex Taylor and with the line-up change came a shortening of their moniker to Shop Assistants. Shop Assistants debuted with Shopping Parade EP in 1985, released on on The Subway Organization, run by Martin Whitehead of Bristol-based band The Flatmates. Its lead track, "All Day Long" was described by Morrissey as his favorite single of the year" which is the sort of endorsement that should, but never did, make a band's career.


Donald quit shortly afterward and without her the band recorded and released "Safety Net" on Keegan's own 53rd & 3rd Records. In 1986, another of their songs, "It's Up To You,” was included on the NME’s now famous scene-making C-86 cassette. 


Having achieved some independent success Shop Assistants next signed to Chrysalis Records, the Blue Guitar Records imprint of which was credited on their sole full-length album, Shop Assistants. Considering its quality, it performed surprisingly poorly commercially. In 1987, Taylor disbanded the band in and formed The Motorcycle Boy with former members of Shop Assistants and East Kilbride's second-finest, Meat Whiplash. They also proved to be one album wonders, releasing just Scarlet in 1989.

One album wonders: The Open Mind's The Open Mind

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 10, 2014 01:00am | Post a Comment
THE OPEN MIND - THE OPEN MIND (1969)

Around 1963, Putney-based musicians Mike "Mike Bran" Brancaccio (guitar), Phil Fox (drums), Timothy du Feu (vocals), and Ray Nye (bass) formed The Apaches, who recorded a demo with none other than Joe Meek. Nye left the band and du Feu moved to bass after they acquired a new singer, Terry Martin (real name Terry Schindler). They changed their name to The Drag Set in 1965.

The Drag Set

Two years later the band were writing their own material and released their first and only single as The Drag Set, “Day and Night” b/w “Get Out of My Way” in early 1967 on Go. Go was a short-lived label which released mostly mod and soul music by the likes of The Barney Sisters, Carl Douglas And The Big Stampede, Neil Spence, Our Plastic Dream, Phil Brady And The Ranch Set, The Roll Movement, Samantha Juste, Scots Of St. James, and Sugar Simone.


The Drag Set realized that there might be some unintended connotations to their name and in 1968 changed it to the suitably psychedelic The Open Mind, on the suggestion of De Feu

The Open Mind

The following May they released their first single with their new name, “Horses And Chariots” b/w “Before My Time.” In July the band released a collection of mod-tinged, leather pants heavy psych which proved to be their only LP, titled The Open Mind and released by Philips

The Open Mind

In August of 1969, The Open Mind released a non-album single, “Magic Potion” b/w “Cast a Spell," produced by Fritz Fryer, guitarist of The Four Pennies. "Magic Potion" proved to be The Open Mind's final release, although they soldiered on until 1973, at which point Phil Fox quit. 


After that, De Feu and Schindler were joined by Stephen Florence and a new drummer and became Armada (not to be confused with Rod Torfulson's Armada Featuring Herman Menderchuck), who broke up after releasing no music.

One album wonders: John's Children's Orgasm

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 3, 2014 10:20am | Post a Comment
 JOHN'S CHILDREN - ORGASM (recorded 1967, released 1971) 

John's Children - Orgasm

Today the band John's Children, when remembered at all, are best remembered for two things: one, for having briefly included within their ranks a pre-T. Rex Marc Bolan and two, for their calculatedly outrageousness and provocative live performances. Both overshadow the fact that they also made some quite enjoyable music, including a sole LP recorded before Bolan joined but released long after he'd left.


*****


The story of John's Children begins in 1965 in Great Bookham, where drummer Chris Townson, guitarist Geoff McClelland, harmonica-player Andy Ellison, and singer Louis Grooner played in a band called The Clockwork Onions. With changing times and line-ups came changing names and The Clockwork Onions became The Few. After the departure of keyboardist Chris Dawsett The Few became The Silence, who were Andy Ellison, Chris Townson, Geoff McClelland, and John Hewlett. The Silence were described by Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell as “positively the worst group I'd ever seen” and not surprisingly he insisted on becoming their manager. 


Napier-Bell changed The Silence's name to John's Children. The band -- actually a group of session musicians -- recorded John's Children's first single, “The Love I Thought I'd Found” b/w “Strange Affair," which was released in 1966. The original title of the A-side was "Smashed Blocked" but a name change was necessitated at home because it was deemed offensive. Far from Surrey the single found a receptive audience (where it was released with its original name) in Florida and California -- two American states both known for their production and appreciation of weird, unpolished garage rock

One album wonders: Diane Hildebrand's Early Morning Blues and Greens

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 27, 2014 01:34am | Post a Comment
DIANE HILDEBRAND - EARLY MORNING BLUES AND GREENS (1967) 

Diane Hildebrand - Early Morning Blues and Greens

It's surprisingly hard to find much information online about singer-songwriter Diane Hildebrand, who was a professional songwriter who penned numbers for none other than The Monkees and released a single, wonderful solo album in the 1960s.



Hildebrand was apparently about eighteen when one of her compositions, "I'm On My Way," was sung by singer Barbara Dane on an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour titled "The Captive Hour." Her first credit was 1964’s “He Walks Like a Man” for singer Jody Miller — a song which though only a modest hit in the US was nevertheless released in FrenchGerman, and Italian cover versions. 

 
A story about Hildebrand from a 1968 edition of Monkees Monthly

Whilst working as a staff writer at Screen Gems Music Publishing (and Colgems), Hildebrand and Jack Keller co-wrote several songs for the ABC series and band, The Monkees, including “Early Morning Blues and Greens,” “Your Auntie Grizelda,”and “Goin’ Down.” Hildebrand also wrote (with Dominic Frontiere"Felicidad" and "Paint Me a Picture" which, along with "I'm On My Way," were all featured on another ABC series, The Flying Nun.

Pour one out for the Cat & Fiddle -- another pub lost in the Southland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 20, 2014 03:54pm | Post a Comment
Sports Bar
Somewhere I don't want to be


If in the bar of your dreams every centimeter of wall (and ceiling) space is covered with banks of televisions flashing seizure-inducing commercials unblinkingly stared at by backwards-capped man-children guzzling plastic pitchers of thin macrobrew between failed attempts to scream over the top of deafening sports commentary, then you’re in luck because there are still about 2,000 places that fit that bill in Hollywood alone. If you enjoy waiting 45 minutes for a man dressed as a 19th century Canadian lumberjack to rub a mason jar with the entire contents of a spice rack then you're similarly set. 

Alan Partridge Ladyboy
Ooohhh, Ladyboys!

On the other hand, if the happy haze of your drunken hour involves sitting in a cozy corner, enjoying a round of ladyboys and perhaps playing a game of darts (or pool, skittles, dominoes, cards, or trivia) --  then you’re going to have to either broaden your horizons or let your dream die because sadly, The Cat & Fiddle is closing on 15 December after 32 years in business -- and English pubs in the Southland are becoming rarer than rain during a superdrought.

BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  >>  NEXT