SONG OF THE DAY The Fentones – Simla Beat Theme

fentonesThe Fentones were a band from Shillong, India that won Simla Beat in 1971.  All-India Simla Beat Contest was organised in the late-1960s by the India Tobacco Company and groups from all around India would compete for first prize.

In an attempt to reach the youth market, the India Tobacco company billed itself as “the oldest cigarette company with a young heart” and tried to attach its brand name to rock music. The contest was first held in Bombay in 1968 and became an annual event thereafter. As the contest grew, a subsidiary of EMI released the LP Simla Beat 70, which collected the winning tracks from the 1970 contest, and followed the next year with Simla Beat 71.

Shillong always had a strong music culture and the Fentones, who won the first prize in the countrywide Simla Beat Contest in 1971, were among the best known. The group was founded by Sherlock Giri & Lou Majaw in 1967 and, although these original members didn’t stick around long, the band continued with various permutations till 1997.  Two of their tracks featured on the Simla Beat Contest, including today’s offering and another entitled Until the Dawn….

Simla Beat Theme is a cool instrumental track, brimming with some real juicy beats and rather hypnotically curvy-psych melodies..I like the way it gathers momentum towards the end too…Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Dennis Roberts – Blues Carnation

There’s nothing like a bit of heartbreak to give a song a touch of edginess and Blue Carnation is the perfect specimen to illustrate what I’m saying. This wondrously dark tale of a torn, tormented heart plays out against a backdrop of subdued surf guitar as haunted twangs echo out like with pain and brooding.

Issued as the B-side to Mule Skinner Blues, today’s song was only one of two 45’s released by the R&B singer, Dennis Roberts in the early 1960’s Both records were quite contrasting, with Come On / I Don’t Care (his first single from 1961) rooted in some lush blues sounds, whilst its follow-up was definitely a more rockabilly affair – this being Mule Skinner Blues/Blue Carnation – which was released in 1963 on independent label, Sims Records. Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Michel Magne – Brigade Anti – Gangs

Brigade Anti – Gangs is the opening (and title track) for the 1966 French-Italian film directed by Bernard Borderie.  The accompanying soundtrack was created by a French film and experimental music composer, Michel Magne, whose extensive repertoire stretched over nearly two decades.

Best knonw for his scores for the Fantômas films: Fantômas (1964), Fantômas se déchaîne (1965) and Fantômas contre Scotland Yard (1967), he worked from his own studio, Michel Magne Studio – which was built inside the the mythic “Château d’Hérouville”  This he purchased in 1962 and subsequently converted it into a residential recording studio in 1969, known as Studio d’enregistrement Michel Magne, which through the 1970s was used by a series of artists such as Elton John (at his Honky Château), Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, and the Bee Gees among many others.

Brigade Anti – Gangs has a classic sound to it and it makes me want to check out the whole movie.  It’s big, bold, dramatic and full of relentless funky undertones! Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY The Shandells – Gorilla

Today’s song was originally released in 1962 as a doo-wop classic on Chicago label, Cortland Records. The band behind this joyful gem was a r’n’b band from Chicago, Illinois called The Ideals. Originally titled Gorilla, this version is worth checking out just to see how it sounded the first time round as this song inspired many covers (of which some were later titled Go Go Gorilla). Which brings me to The Shandells……

Two years after The Ideals were rocking their slower-paced original of this doo-wop number, The Shandells released their own rougher garage rock version on US label, Banger Records. Hailing from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, The Shandells issued The Gorilla as their first 45 in 1964, followed a year later by Here Comes the Pain.  These two singles were all they put out and like many other garage bands of the time, they disappeared after only a couple of releases. The Shandells more upbeat rendition of Gorilla is full of howls and gruff vocal niceties (listen about 1:42 mins in and you will hear what I mean). It’s pace is faster and the gnarly garage-soul guitar gives it an edgier feel which, for me, this makes this version stand out from all the rest. Check it out above. 

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SONG OF THE DAY Joe Cruz & The Cruzettes – Love Song

Today’s song is a cover…perhaps even a cover of a cover, but by far the best version of this song I’ve heard!..and this includes better than the original (as far as I’m concerned?)!

Love Song doesn’t inspire any pangs of originality as far as song titles go and the original version is perhaps what you’d expect when it comes to sentiment and content. The original version of the song dates back to the UK’s Lesley Duncan, who wrote and recorded the song first in 1969, and then her and Elton John dueted on it a year later. From there, dozens of other covers followed, including by everyone from Dionne Warwick to Olivia Newton John. Most versions keep true to Duncan’s folksy, minimalist originalk though. Then came Lani Hall...her version is the closest I’ve heard to today’s rendition!

Joe Cruz & The Cruzettes were the house band at the Manila Hyatt-Regency Hotel in the Philippines during the 1970’s. Their version transforms this track from a slow and somewhat sentimental pop dirge into this groove-laden, funky, soul croon and the difference is remarkable!! The vocals are more soulful and the keyboard tinged melody takes this into far cooler realms.

The band were part of the almighty Cruz clan, one of the most influential musical families in the P.I., originating in 1972 with their self-titled debut album. They recorded a handful of LP’s, singles and EP’s throughout the 1970’s and continued to play as the house band at the Manila Hyatt-Regency Hotel disappearing by the end of the decade…..Love Song appeared on their second record, At The Hyatt Regency Hotel, which was released in 1973. Check it out above

Thanks to this article for assisting me with this post!

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SONG OF THE DAY Primitive Community – Black Narcissus

Toshiaki Yokota was born Tokyo in 1944. Since childhood he had played the flute and by the time he was 17 he was performing on stage as a professional jazz musician. Sometime in the early 1970’s he founded a 12-piece band named Yuánshǐ gòngtóngtǐ ‎(Primitive Community) and went on to release just one self-titled album in 1971 on Japanese label, Toshiba Records.

In a similar vein to his previous project, The Beat Generation (who released the album Flute Adventure a year before), the sound that Primitive Community were creating ranged from Free Jazz to Psych Rock..with some Folk thrown in for good measure. There are hints of African inspirations bubbling up through hypnotic tribal percussion, alongside psychedelic rock influences and some songs stretch out over 10 minutes of experimental and instrumental abandon….

So far I’ve not heard enough to comment on many of the other tracks on this record, apart from Black Narcissus – this was what brought me here! This song is so gentle on the ears with its flowing rhythms and soft percussion cascading over the inquisitive swirling flute melody; a melody that wanders into flighty jazz realms, soaring high as it disappears into the clouds.. It’s a dreamy meditation for the ears! Check it out above and if you are curious to hear more, I’ve found a link to the whole album which I’ve pasted below.

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SONG OF THE DAY Steve King – Long Lonely Road

steve-king-and-the-echelons-long-lonely-road-mercury-sAfter ten years spent on the road and in recording studios, singer-guitarist Steve King eventually turned his art to the radio! His broadcasting career started in 1966 when he began working at WJOB radio in Hammond, Indiana and he has been working on air ever since!

It’s a shame he didn’t continue recording music though, especially when you hear the likes of today’s song and. one of my favourite discoveries, Satan Is Her Name – which I covered back in 2014! Alas, however, it would appear that the Chicago-based rock’n’roller only ever recorded three singles in the early 1960’s.

Satan Is Her Name was released as a single on October 29th 1962 on Chicago’s Mercury Records label, but what surprised me is that this was the b-side to Long Lonely Road – and yet it’s flipside seems so much better-known!? Long Lonely Road stands out for its trudging rhythm which works perfectly with the sentiment of the song and, contrary to it being a slog as my description may suggest, this pace just sets off the lyrics a treat! King’s vocals are nicely strung-out as his pained howls repeatedly exclaim “It’s a long lonely road”  ….and this line feels about as lonely and anguished as you can get! Check it out above!

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SONG OF THE DAY Phil Woods, Iordanis Tsomidis – Greek Cooking

Considered as one of the more unusual recordings in his discography, Greek Cooking is an album by US jazz saxophonist/composer & bandleader Phil Woods. Released in 1967 on the Impluse! label, this record featured an exotic fusion of Greek flavours, incorporating four Greek musicians into this alluring mix.

One artist that featured on this record was Iordanis Tsomidis, a Greek Rebetiko musician and bouzouki player (Rebetiko being  an urban popular song of the Greeks). Throughout his career Tsomidis released at least eight records in the U.S.A, Germany and The Netherlands and it was actually this artist that got led me today’s song after I heard his rhythmically charming and rather hypnotic Moustika track (YUM).

Phil Moore’s Greek Cooking album closed with it’s title track and this tune is one of my favourites on the album. Offering up a finely balanced blend of rich jazz tones and colourful Greek infusions, this instrumental venture straddles both worlds perfectly; allowing each part to unravel and entwine with a and organic flow that harmonises both elements. The drumming is something I’m appreciating rather a lot too!! Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Hugo Blanco y Su Conjunto — Orquidea Arabe

Hugo César Blanco Manzo, better known as Hugo Blanco, was a Venezuelan musician, composer, producer and arranger whose musical style, a fusion of Cuban music and joropo, earned him worldwide recognition.

Naming his own style of sound “the orquídea,” in honor of the Venezuelan national flower, this artist learnt how to play his instrument of choice, a cuatro (Latin stringed instrument), just by listening to the radio! He was 15 when he started to learn music!

Possibly best know as the author of Moliendo Café (Grinding Coffee), Blanco wrote this tune and many of his other popular compositions at the age of only 18 years old. Moliendo Café has since become one of the most recognised Venezuelan songs in the world!!

In the 1960s, Blanco composed many popular gaitas (Venezuelan musical style) with Simón Díaz called Gaitas de las Locas. He also founded what is widely considered to be the first Venezuelan ska group, Las Cuatro Monedas.…Venezuelan ska is definitely a new one for me!!! He didn’t stop there either and in the 1970s he founded the Venezuelan group Los Hijos De Ña Carmen.

Today’s song was one of his earlier offerings and featured on a 1962 EP entitled, El Herrero (The Blacksmith). Translating as Arabic Orchid, Orquidea Arabe is quite the enticing little swirler of exotic joy.  Percussion is key to this song and drives this fast-paced instrumental forward, stopping every once in a while to ponder before it sets off on its melodic romp through undulating melodies…Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Trio Madjesi & Orchestre Sosoliso – Matshatsha

Trio Madjesi & Orchestre Sosoliso were a band from Zaire, (now Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC) who formed in the 1970s.  Consisting of three singer-songwriters, Mario, Buana Kitoko, and ‘Loko Masengo Djeskain Saak Saakul Sinatra’ (real name Bonghat Tshekabu), their music was an inspiriting fusion of rumba, soul and jazz – all of which was sang in various languages. 

Taking influences from the likes of James Brown and many Congolese artists and groups, their stage performances were said to be both ‘lively’ and ‘hypnotic’ and, supported by the Sosoliso Orchestra, they have toured the world and recorded nearly thirty records!! 


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