Written by 4:32 am Audiophile Music

Connecting The Dots from Beatles to AC/DC

Mark Smotroff looks at Vickers ‘n Beats ‘n Grapefruit (Oh My!)

One of the genuinely fun things about the music collector’s holiday dubbed “Record Store Day” has been the plethora of obscure and interesting single releases. Not singles as in downloads, mind you. I  mean singles as in seven-inch vinyl records spinning at 45 RPM (that’s “revolutions per minute” for those readers not acquainted with the term). 

We called ’em “Forty Fives” when I was a little kid… 

AR-GrapefruitBackCoverImage.jpgWhy should you as audiophiles care one bit about 45s, Dear Readers? Well first off, forty-fives can sound real good and often contain mixes unique to those discs — mixes which were often the hit sounds played on radio back in the day (remember radio?). Just put on some old Buddy Holly 45s from the 1950s on Brunswick and Coral and I assure you that you’ll be amazed how good they sound with mixes that were designed for that format. Many times there were “B-Sides” exclusive to those discs as well. So if you are into a particular artist, often times collecting the 45s is as important as the LPs (and CDs and Blu-rays,for that matter). 

But today we’re going to explore some 45’s released on Record Store Day this year which are pretty nifty in their own right and both of which sound real fine. 

First up is a record by a group called Grapefruit  one of the earliest signings to The Beatles’ Apple Records publishing company. This single includes one track that was produced by John Lennon and Paul McCartney called “Lullaby” — according to the wiki the song was originally titled “Circus Sgt. Pepper.” The band was named after Yoko Ono’s book of the same name. 

Remember that part I told you about releases that are really interesting? 

AR-0Grapefruit.jpgSo, yeah, this first ever release of the Mono mix of that song is a pleasant piece of post Summer of Love paisley-flavored pop. You can hear why perhaps the single wasn’t released — timing was everything back then and when this was recorded I suspect that the song was stylistically out of fashion, what with heavier music of Cream, Hendrix, Iron Butterfly and others stealing the airwaves from the sunshine-infused flower power music of the then very recent past.

Still, this is a nifty bit of history contained in a small piece of nicely pressed, quiet and well centered seven-inch vinyl. This was a limited edition but if you check around your favorite stores — the whole point of Record Store Day, going to the stores! — or on line you will probably be able to find it.  

Its also worth noting that there is a connection here in Grapefruit to The Easybeats and AC/DC! Songwriter George Alexander (born Alexander Young) was apparently the brother of George Young who — with his songwriting partner Harry Vanda — founded The Easybeats in Australia…and then with his brothers Angus and Malcom helped get AC/DC off the ground as producers. 

Thus, this is a record by the forgotten older brother of the guys who went on to start AC/DC!

Connecting some dots here folks… 

And… from AC/DC its not hard to make a leap to the legendary Lemmy Kilmister (RIP) who achieve world wide fame as a member of prog space rock band Hawkwind and later heavy metal rockers Motorhead. 

AR-RockinVickersCD225.jpgNot a whole lot of people realize Lemmy’s history in the music world dates back to the early 1960s. One of the bands he was in was a British Invasion-era group called The Rockin’ Vickers.  A group that didn’t actually quite get to “invade” America, the Rockin’ Vickers only put out four singles in the UK only as far as I know. On Record Store Day one of those rare singles was reissued — again, as far as I know — for the first time on vinyl since 1966. 

This single was the band’s last release, produced by the legendary Shel Talmy — who in addition to producing hits for The Kinks and The Who also produced the smash hit for The Easybeats called “Friday On My Mind” (remember what I said about connecting dots earlier!).  

I’ve long had a nice CD compilation of The Rockin’ Vickers recordings for some time but this is the first time I’ve had any of their stuff on vinyl.  

AR-RockinVickersSingle225.jpgThey do a respectable cover of The Kinks’ “Dandy” (which was also a hit for Herman’s Hermits around this time, #5 US, #1 Canada). The B-side is a rockin’ fuzz-guitar driven slice of a garage-rock infuses pop called “I Don’t Need Your Kind” that I actually like better than the A-side. Its more in tune with The Rockin’ Vickers sound, which if you’ve never heard you should check out. Their version of Neil Sedaka’s “I Go Ape” is absolutely stellar.

So there you have it… in one little review we’ve made the leap from The Beatles to AC/DC!

Hey hey, my my…

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