Here Comes That Feeling
May Mix part two

There has been a string of essential re-issue action coming out of the Rev-Ola stable of late. First up is the Weavers’ Hard, Ain’t It Hard collection. Now The Weavers should be one of those groups that everyone should know, but perhaps doesn’t. They are one of the key links in the chain of connections that runs backwards and forwards through the history of Pop. You could argue that without them there would have been no folk revival and no Dylan. You can trace the rest of the argument from there. It’s not too difficult, after all.

The story of the Weavers is fascinating, and a microcosm of the tensions and contradictions of American popular (and populist) culture and Politics of the post-war years. Duglas Stewart’s (of BMX Bandits, in case you did not know) wonderful sleevenotes are slim but perfectly formed and tell all you need to know, although further investigation is to be encouraged of course. I particularly like the last part of the notes where Duglas muses on the lasting power of love songs, and I’m picking the Weavers’ reading of the old Scottish song ‘I Know Where I’m Going’ for exactly the same reason Duglas singles it out. For I too remember hearing the song in the Powell and Pressburger film of the same title, and it’s a moment that has stuck with me ever since those childhood Saturday afternoons I mentioned elsewhere.

Speaking of TV, movies and the folk revival, who can tell me the connection between Dylan and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bonanza, Ivanhoe, Kismet, Winnie The Pooh and The Jungle Book? I thought that would have you scratching your heads. The answer of course is London-born character actor Sebastian Cabot. I am sure that you would recognise Cabot as the voice of Bagheera, or as the narrator of those Winnie The Pooh movies. He ought to surely be an icon of the twee-generation, and indeed I recall one afternoon spent in a Bristol cinema with Stuart of the Visitors and Rob Poppyhead watching The Jungle Book. It must have been a slightly bizarre and troubling sight, the three of us in there with all those little kids. But I digress. For what is the link between Cabot and Dylan? Well, trust Rev-Ola to follow their marvellously monstrous Will Shatner and Leonard Nimoy artefacts with this Sebastian Cabot reading the lyrics of Bob Dylan. The readings are backed by madcap stripped down orchestral sounds, artfully arranged by the genius of Irving Spice, and it really is all an insane journey into the dark recesses of the record executive minds of the 1960s, desperately searching for ways in which to make yet more money out of those Pop acts that they feared would be burnt out and lost in a year or two at most.

Less bizarre, but perhaps more worthy of your attention is the excellent Captain Nemo set by The Sundowners. This band of soft psych troubadours were around in the mid to late ‘60s and this, their sole 1968 album is full of West Coast cool. They toured with The Monkees and Hendrix (we will celebrate the former and forgive the latter) and performed on a couple of TV shows and movies, including an appearance as The Raspberry Wristwatch on The Flying Nun. In some ways then it’s a surprise that they could have slipped off the radar for so long, but whatever, it’s great to have this set salvaged and out there, up there with the likes of the Millennium, and The Clique material that Rev-Ola have bestowed upon us over the years. For this mix I’m going for the soaring ‘Always You’ because, hey, you know it always IS, and it reminds me of one of those magnificent Sandy Salisbury numbers. You know the ones. The ones that just slip their fingers around yours and squeeze just so. The ones that look in your eyes and smile in pools of glamorous depths. ‘Here Comes That Feeling’ indeed.

Crossing the pond now for the Time Time Time collection by The Knack. Not the Knack of ‘My Sharona’ infamy, nor the 1960’s US garage band, but ‘the original’ The Knack. Out of Ilford they came, in 1963, doing the obligatory r’n’b thing, and indeed their debut for the Decca label in late 1965 was a fine version of The Kinks’ fabulous ‘Who’ll be The Next In Line?’. Pick of the set though for me is the cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Younger Girl’ if only because I can never pass up on a John Sebastian moment when it presents itself. Well, that and the fact that it was released pretty much as I was being born… This cut was actually the flip to a cover of another Spoonful tune, ‘Did You Ever Have To Make Your Mind’ which is every bit as fine, though it was ‘Stop!’ from the same EP that became the ‘hit’, reaching the cusp of the top twenty on the influential Radio London chart. Like so many groups of the time, The Knack developed with the fashions, and eventually metamorphosed into Gun who would go on to have a hit with ‘Race With The Devil’ in ’68. For me though, it’s these raw and pure records that hit the mark, and for anyone with even a passing interest in ‘60s Beat Pop sounds, The Knack are well worth investigating.

Also from London, but leaping forward a decade, are The Exits and The Legendary Lost Exits Album. Subtitled ‘England’s finest powerPOP 1978’ this is a group that someone like John Carney could no doubt tell us a great deal more about than I ever could. Some of the more devoted fans of the whole Dan Treacy universe might know them as the group that pre-dated The Direct Hits who of course recorded for the Whaam! label. For any fans of the Direct Hits, this Exists set is certainly worth checking out, for the mod pop roots are there for sure in many of the cuts. I’m plumping for ‘Cheam’ because it sounds like a slice of uptight righteous teen angst that is gloriously of its time. In the sleeve notes, Colin Swan reminisces about the song, saying that it is about a girl who “lived in North Cheam. It was another world as far as I was concerned, as was anywhere outside of Wandsworth in those days”. It’s that obsession with the macro-universe of youth that really makes these songs so enjoyable, and of course that’s one of the key elements in some of the greatest Pop, so go figure.

© 2007 Alistair Fitchett