Welcome to Part Two of our RPM Records Round-Up, exploring another three titles from the Cherry Red retro imprint! If you missed Part One, just click here!
The first release heads down under, collecting The Dave Miller Set‘s recordings for Australia’s Spin label in the late 1960s. Mr. Guy Fawkes: The Complete Spin Recordings and More (1967-1970) has 19 tracks, including one previously unreleased, from the New Zealand-born frontman and his musical collaborators. The compilation takes its title from the band’s 1969 psychedelic nugget, voted Song of the Year by Go-Set magazine at the time. Not only does this release have the group’s complete recordings, but it also includes tracks from Miller’s 1970 collaborative album Reflections of a Pioneer, recorded with Dave Miller Set bandmate Leith Corbett.
Under the auspices of prolific producer-arranger Pat Aulton, The Dave Miller Set transformed a number of familiar songs including their debut single “Why? Why? Why?” from the pen of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Phil “Fang” Volk. Miller, Ray Mulholland, John Robinson, and Bob Thompson changed the song’s time signature and gave it a heavier, Animals-inspired sound. Other revivals included Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party” sans the strings and bright production of the original; a sitar-flecked treatment of Dino Valenti’s “Get Together” (a U.S. hit for The Youngbloods); and a lively but not altogether successful version of Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Proving Miller and Aulton’s keen eye for talent and strong material, it was issued before Chicago released their own original version on 45.
The Dave Miller Set, at one point billed as “The Beatles of Australia,” was eventually plagued by the departure of Bob Thompson and Ray Mulholland, and in May 1970, Dave Miller dissolved the group. (He and John Robinson would briefly reactivate the Set in 1973.) Eight selections from Miller and Corbett’s 1970 LP round out this collection which features detailed (if uncredited) liner notes in a 16-page color booklet, and remastering by Warren Barnett. (Unfortunately, discographical annotation is absent.)
Over in Sweden, The Deejays were enjoying a string of successes including a run of 20 singles – two of which made the top ten. The British beat group only issued two singles in their native country, despite having emerged out of Great Britain’s skiffle scene in the late 1950s. By 1963, the group had solidified a line-up of Johnny Vallons, Pete Clinton (also known as Pete Chapman), Buzz “Flyboy” Nelson (also known as Pano Osman), and Derek Skinner – though, as was so often the case, there were line-up changes to come. Coming On Strong: The Best of The Deejays captures the group from 1965-1967 with 28 singles and album tracks.
Swe-Disc Records honcho Roland Ferneborg became aware of The Deejays while they were touring with the Swedish instrumental group The Spotnicks. Inviting them to Sweden, he signed them, and their Swe-Disc career launched with a cover of Billy Fury’s “Wondrous Place.” Soon, they were reviving oldies and more recent material with frequency, and on this disc you’ll hear their versions of the oft-covered “Long Tall Shorty,” Don and Dewey’s “Farmer John,” Bo Diddley’s “I Can Tell,” The Kinks’ “I Just Can’t Go to Sleep,” Leiber and Stoller’s “I’m a Hog for You Baby,” Little Richard’s “Bama Lama Lou,” Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road,” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” and more.
Their R&B-inspired brand of beat earned them slots on bills with The Who (with whom they shared “Summertime Blues” as a favorite cover), Jimi Hendrix, The Hep Stars, and even original rock-and-roller Bill Haley. As the decade progressed, the band changed their sound to incorporate heavier rock and psychedelic influences before calling it a day in 1968. Coming On Strong cherry-picks the finest and most interesting tracks from the group’s short-lived heyday. Andy Morten has provided the new liner notes in the 12-page color booklet, and Simon Murphy has remastered.
Before they became in-demand background vocalists for artists including Joe Cocker, Pink Floyd, Meat Loaf, and Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, sisters Doreen and Irene Chanter came together for Dick James Music and Page One Records as the duo Birds of a Feather. While recording their sole album in 1970, they came into the orbit of the young Elton John, in his final days as a session pianist and singer, and with numerous figures who would play roles in Elton’s career including Gus Dudgeon, Stuart Epps, Caleb Quaye, and Rick Wakeman. The Page One Recordings collects all of their work for the label.
Doreen and Irene first performed as one-half of The Chanters alongside their brothers Alex and Charlie. After winning the television talent program Opportunity Knocks, they recorded a number of sides for CBS in London. The sisters found their time at Larry Page and Dick James’ Page One label to be more artistically fulfilling, although they were surprised and unhappy that the label didn’t embrace the idea of the group as a four-piece featuring their brothers. The spotlight would be squarely on them. The brassy, energetic pair of “Blacksmith Blues” b/w “Sing My Song and Play” arrived as the Birds’ debut single on the label, in October 1969 – just months after Reginald Dwight had made his own debut as Elton John with Empty Sky on DJM Records in June.
Soon, an album was slated, with Gus Dudgeon’s assistant Stuart Epps assigned to produce. DJM’s in-house talent like Caleb Quaye, Ian Duck, Roger Pope, David Glover, and Rick Wakeman were all brought into the studio to play on the record. Up-and-coming Elton supplied four songs for the LP: “Take Me to the Pilot, “”Border Song,” “Bad Side of the Moon,” and “Country Comfort.” All of the songs were fresh; “Border Song” and “Bad Side” were recorded by the Birds just two weeks after Elton cut his own single versions. “Take Me to the Pilot” was from Elton’s 1970 self-titled album, and “Country Comfort” wouldn’t show up on one of his albums until Tumbleweed Connection that October – the same month The Birds’ eponymous album saw release. Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin were in the studio and supportive of the Chanters’ gospel-flecked recordings of their soon-to-be-classic songs. Barbara Moore, who led the choir on Elton’s own recording of “Border Song,” shared arranging duties on Birds of a Feather with Caleb Quaye.
Though Doreen was a prolific songwriter herself with five songs on the album, other tunes were chosen from the Rolling Stones (“Gimme Shelter”), Booker T. Jones and William Bell (“All God’s Children Got Soul”), and the late Sam Cooke (“One More Time”). But despite a promotional push and a Top of the Pops appearance, Birds of a Feather weren’t greeted with the same success as their friend Elton. In December 1970, Dick James folded Page One into his own company, leading the Chanter sisters to record three more singles for the DJM label as Birds of a Feather, and one more as The Electric Dolls. They went on to record for Polydor, and had a moderate hit in 1976 with “Side Show” as The Chanter Sisters. As a songwriter, Doreen scored a hit for Kiki Dee with her composition “Star” in 1981.
Michael Robson has penned new liner notes for the 16-page booklet here, and Simon Murphy has remastered. Birds of a Feather’s The Page One Recordings is a generous helping of rootsy, impassioned, blue-eyed soul from the talented duo, and a vivid snapshot of Elton John’s own hungry years on the cusp of superstardom.
All three titles are available now from Cherry Red’s RPM imprint!
- Mr. Guy Fawkes
- Someone Is Sure To
- Why? Why? Why?
- A Bread and Butter Day
- No Need to Cry
- Get Together
- Hard, Hard Year
- Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
- Having a Party
- The Loner
- Don’t You Think It’s Time
- In Your Mind
- Reflections of a Pioneer
- I Don’t Believe It
- I’ll Be Laughing
- It’s Great to Get Up in the Morning, But Better Staying in Bed
- I Can Do It Better
Tracks 1 & 2 from Spin single EK-3160, 1969
Tracks 3 & 8 from Spin single EK-2064, 1967
Tracks 4 & 10 from Spin single EK-2277, 1968
Tracks 5 & 7 from Spin single EK-2550, 1968
Tracks 6 & 9 from Spin single EK-3571, 1970
Tracks 11-18 from Reflections of a Pioneer, Spin LP SEL-934008, 1970
Track 19 previously unreleased
- Long Tall Shorty
- I Can Tell
- Farmer John
- I Just Can’t Go to Sleep
- Blackeyed Woman
- I’m a Hog for You Baby
- You Must Be Joking
- Coming On Strong
- Not That Girl
- Bama Lama Lou
- What’cha Tryin’ to Do
- Strong Love
- Time and Time Again
- Tobacco Road
- It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
- I’ll Never Get Over You
- In the Midnight Hour
- Working Out Fine
- Summertime Blues
- Ring You on Friday
- Far Apart, Why?
- Without Love
- Striped Dreams Checked Fear
Tracks 1-2 from Polydor (Sweden) single NH 10980, 1965
Tracks 3-4 from Polydor (Sweden) single NH 10983, 1965
Tracks 5-6 from Polydor (U.K.) single BM 56501, 1965
Track 7 from Polydor (Sweden) single NH 10996, 1965
Tracks 8-9 from Polydor (U.K.) single BM 56034, 1965
Track 10 from Shake It Baby!, Polydor (Germany) LP 623002, 1965
Tracks 11-12 from Polydor (Sweden) single NH 59714, 1966
Track 13 from Polydor (Sweden) single NH 59723, 1966
Track 14 from Polydor (Sweden) single NJ 59731, 1967
Tracks 15-19 from The Deejays, Polydor (Sweden) LPHM 46254, 1966
Track 20 from Hep House single HS 06, 1967
Track 21 from Hep House HS 07, 1967
Track 22 from Hep House HS 17, 1967
Track 23 from Hep House HS 26, 1967
Tracks 24-28 from Haze, Hep House HLP 02, 1967
- Take Me to the Pilot
- Get It Together
- One More Time
- Border Song
- All God’s Children Got Soul
- What is Life
- Take the World
- Bad Side of the Moon
- Baby Don’t You Bring Me Down
- Gimme Shelter
- Leaving the Ghetto
- Country Comfort
- Blacksmith Blues
- Sing My Song and Pray
Tracks 1-12 from Birds of a Feather, Page One LP POLS 027, 1970
Tracks 13-14 from Page One single POF 156, 1970