The Mickey Finn traveled in the same circles as The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things, but despite some very close calls, the band never hit the big time. Garden of My Mind: The Complete Recordings collects The Mickey Finn’s 1964-1967 Blue Beat, Oriole, Columbia, Polydor and Direction singles along with previously unreleased demo recordings to paint a full portrait of the cult-favorite band.
The story of The Mickey Finn began in the U.K. circa 1962 when guitarist Mickey Waller joined with drummer Richard Brand in The Strangers. By 1963, Waller and Brand had teamed with bassist John Burkett, vocalist Alan Mark and keyboardist John “Fluff Cooke” as Mickey Finn and The Blue Men. Under this moniker, the group released a trio of singles, all included here: “Tom Hark” b/w “Please Love Me” on Blue Beat, and “Pills” b/w “Hush Your Mouth” and “Reelin’ and A’ Rockin'” b/w “I Still Want You” on Oriole. These singles established the band’s “bluebeat” sound and featured choice contributions from friend Jimmy Page – not on guitar, but on harmonica! Page also joined the band for some onstage gigs.
As 1964 ended, John Burkett departed the group and was replaced by Mick Stannard. Columbia signed the group with its newly-stripped down moniker of Mickey Finn for one single produced by Shel Talmy, “The Sporting Life” b/w “Night Comes Down.” Both sides were co-written by Talmy, and it’s a possibility that Jimmy Page played guitar on these sessions per Alan Mark in the liner notes. Talmy recorded other tracks with the band that didn’t see release at the time, including a version of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess showstopper “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” (Ironically, the character who sings that song in the original musical-folk opera is named Sporting Life!) The recording is included here along with “God Bless the Child,” as both tracks later saw release on Talmy’s Orbit label. Two more demos from this period, “Stagger Lee” and “Poverty,” debut on this collection.
As The Mickey Finn, the band released its next 45 on Polydor in 1966: a cover of Billy Stewart’s “I Do Love You” b/w Pam Sawyer and Lori Burton’s ballad “If I Had You Baby.” Mick Stannard was next to leave the group, and he was replaced first by Rod Clark and then by Bernie Jory. Demos from this transitional period are included here, as is The Mickey Finn’s next (and final) single, for CBS’ Direction label in 1967. The original song “Garden of My Mind,” written by Finn, Mark and Jory, was backed on 45 by “Time to Start Loving You,” credited to all five members. Richard Gottehrer (“My Boyfriend’s Back,” “I Want Candy”) produced this single, which should have established the band as a top-flight purveyor of freakbeat/psychedelia.
The Mickey Finn continued to perform and tour through 1968 before its members called it a day, but RPM’s new release shows the group as a potent might-have-been with a small if strong legacy of great music. Garden of My Mind: The Complete Recordings presents these recordings in non-chronological sequence. It has been remastered by Simon Murphy and features liner notes by Brian Neavyn based on his interviews with the band members for Ugly Things magazine.
Though born in Washington, DC in the U.S., the gruff-voiced singer-songwriter Tim Rose (1940-2002) spent much of his life in the United Kingdom. RPM has brought together on one 2-CD set his 1975 Atlantic album The Musician along with The Gambler, recorded in 1977 but first released in 1991. Rose played with a number of bands in his early days including The Journeymen (alongside John Phillips) and The Big 3 (with Phillips’ future bandmate “Mama” Cass Elliott and James Hendricks). CBS signed Rose to a solo deal in 1966, and before long his single recording of “Hey Joe” gained significant regional airplay. (Rose claimed authorship of the song – copyrighted in 1962 by Billy Roberts – which was further popularized by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, reportedly after Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler heard Rose’s arrangement.) “Morning Dew” and “Come Away Melinda” from Rose’s 1967 solo debut also gained regional acclaim but failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, while the U.K., “Morning Dew” was a Radio Caroline favorite.
Following his stint with Columbia, Rose recorded for Capitol Records (with none other than The Mickey Finn/The Who producer Shel Talmy) and Playboy Records. In 1975, Rose’s manager Jonathan Rowlands snagged him a deal with Atlantic Records for The Musician. Rowlands produced the set which contained some Rose originals (including “It’s Not My Life That’s Been Changin’,” “The Day I Spent with You” and “Where is the Good Life,” the latter co-written with Andy Summers) and well-chosen covers from the pens of Neil Young (“Old Man”), Tom Jans (“Loving Arms”), Tim Moore (“Second Avenue”) and Bobby Charles and The Band’s Rick Danko (“Small Town Talk”).
The Musician didn’t make much noise, though, and Rose entered a short period of exile from the music business. In 1977, he teamed with R&B producer-arranger Pierre Tubbs for a series of demos which resulted in a deal with Phonogram for the album The Gambler. Musicians B.J. Cole and Andy Summers returned from The Musician, and the band also included Raphael Ravenscroft, Lynton Naff, Michael de Albuquerque and Theodore Thunder. But despite the label’s enthusiasm for the Rose/Tubbs demos, it balked at the finished product. Rose considered Tubbs to have overproduced the album, which consisted of originals mainly penned by either Rose or Tubbs. The Gambler sat on the shelf until President Records released it in 1991; by that point, Rose had found gainful employment in New York as a stock broker! Tim Rose returned to music in 1996, but died of a heart attack in 2002.
RPM’s reissue of The Musician/The Gambler adds two bonus cuts – Rose’s re-recordings of “Morning Dew” and “Hey Joe.” Simon Murphy has remastered both albums, and Roger Dopson has provided new liner notes. The Mickey Finn’s Garden of My Mind and Tim Rose’s The Musician/The Gambler are both available now at the links below!
- I Still Want You
- Garden of My Mind
- Night Comes Down
- Hush Your Mouth
- Time to Start Loving You
- (It) Ain’t Necessarily So
- If I Had You Baby
- The Sporting Life
- Because I Love You (I Do Love You)
- Reelin’ and A’Rockin’
- Stagger Lee
- Miss Jane
- God Bless the Child
- Tom Hark
- Please Love Me
Tracks 1 & 5 from Oriole single CB 1927, 1964
Tracks 2 & 11 from Oriole single CB 1940, 1964
Tracks 3 & 6 from Direction single 58-3086, 1967
Tracks 4 & 9 from Columbia single DB 7510, 1965
Tracks 7 & 15 rec. 1965, issued on Orbit single, 1995
Tracks 8 & 10 from Polydor single 56719, 1966
Tracks 12-14 previously unissued demos
Tracks 16-17 from Blue Beat single 203, 1964
CD 1: The Musician (Atlantic K 50183, 1975)
- 7:30 Song
- Small Town Talk
- The Musician
- Loving Arms
- Old Man
- It’s Not My Life That’s Been Changin’
- The Day I Spent with You
- Second Avenue
- Now You’re a Lady
- Where is the Good Life?
- Morning Dew (Bonus Track) (from Morning Dew 1976, Les Disques Motors MT 44.056, 1976)
- Hey Joe (Bonus Track) (from Morning Dew 1976, Les Disques Motors MT 44.056, 1976)
CD 2: The Gambler (rec. 1977, released as President PCOM1117, 1991)
- I Just Wanna Make Love to You
- He Was Born to Be a Lady
- Dance on Ma Belle
- It’ll Be Alright on the Night
- Moving Targets
- The Gambler
- Blow Me Back Santa Ana
- Is There Something ‘Bout the Way I Hold My Gun
- So Much to Love
- Bowery Avenue