Saturday, 8 August 2009

Pavement - Pavement (1969)

Nobody's Gonna Sleep Tonight

Double Decker Of A Man


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Crystal CRY 3000

There's been a few rarities posted here in the past but this is the first time SI's dropping a record whose mere existence was in question. Apparently the work of this two-tone troupe is an elusive and much sought-after slice of UK mod and ska history but besides a review in the recently published Galactic Ramble (which I haven't read) it's not often found in the landslide of record collector guides devoted to that time & place.

Outside of catalogue # and track listings, I could only find three other solid, "informative" references (a pic of the cover quickly became the acid test): a current
eBay listing (buy it now for 100€), a terse description courtesy Psychedelic Storm records ("Rumoured not to exist album. Flip-back cover.") and a bit better blurb from Berlin's Ubupopland on what 130€ buys you:
Impossible rare and obscure UK white and black group from the late 60s. Play two killer tracks in Funky Soul Mod dancer way, listen to "She wrote me a letter" and also to "Shockproof ". Inclu other cool ska and reggae numbers.
There you have it, the sum total of information available for the inaugural album of short-lived Crystal records. Details are so scant on this release that after two weeks of trawling through hundreds of pages of search results trying to source the players based on their first name, it was obviously a lost cause. Even the tried-and-true methods of investigating the label's house band/preferred session men or touring outfits of the vocalists led to nameless dead ends since the rest of the label's output featured low-rent pop-oriented crooners who were probably uninterested in sharing the spotlight.

Jack Price at the controls

Along with Dominant Music and Crystal Publishing, Crystal Records was formed in 1968 by Jack Price and Jean Domminney. It had a small run of albums and singles, cementing its spot in studio boffin history by being the first label in London to release material recorded using 8 track. Not so surprising since Price was a forward-thinking fellow and one of the first Brits to recognise and jump on the ska/rocksteady/reggay bandwagon. Of course, Jack's happy to tell you about it his own words (and his own CAPSLOCK) on his own website, but here's the edited version of the happenings in 68-70:
DOMINANT MUSIC [signed a] sub-publishing deal with SPARTA/FLORIDA for several copyrights, including the Rock Steady hit SWAN LAKE by THE CATS (a big hit on the continent and made the national charts in the UK).

Swan Lake by The Cats, reputed to
be moonlighting members of
the BBC orchestra ca. '68

[Price] became Label Manager and P.A. to EMILE SHALLET, the Managing Director of MELODISC RECORDS, London (Bluebeat and FAB label) thus gaining considerable experience in the Rock Steady and Reggae scene from the very company that initiated the Reggae industry in Europe... This company had massive national chart successes and large record sales with PRINCE BUSTER on the BB label.

It's the future.
We're living in real gangster times.
We need to take one step beyond.

[Price] produced albums for PHILIPS, MERCURY, FONTANA REDIFFUSION, PYE RECORDS, PRESIDENT RECORDS (JAYBOY LABEL), FLAMINGO MUSIC, SAGA RECORDS, as well as for his own labels, SIOUX RECORDS and CRYSTAL RECORDS. These included rock and roll, folk R&B and Reggae music... Also at this time issued a Reggae album on the CRYSTAL LABEL for NOEL GAY MUSIC PUBLISHERS...

By introducing the Reggae scene to Philips, Pye and Decca Records, he has been accredited to be the first person to make the music available nationwide to all record outlets instead of the limited distribution network which existed at the time
As good as Price might be at accepting the credit he deserves, either he or NGP weren't nearly so generous at giving it on the Pavement liner notes. Hype, on the other hand, there's plenty of. One would expect nothing less since it was the go juice of the a-go-go era and this was the first release on a new label being propelled by a high-powered entertainment corporation currently firing on all cylinders, after all. But would dropping a few family names into the mix be that hard? Who were these guys? Oh wait, maybe that's why this record plummeted into the deepest recesses of obscurity.

It's also telling how Price differentiates the Pavement album as specifically being made for the Noel Gay Organisation, as if to distance himself from the affair. What's up with that? Maybe there's so few copies floating around because they're all sitting in a forgotten Noel Gay warehouse or the record bombed so badly that copies not lucky enough to be among the few sold were destroyed. The copy posted here does have a pinhole bin hole in the bottom corner, so the latter scenario seems a little more likely.

Noel Gay was the stage name of Reginald Armitage who, starting in the late 30s, parlayed his showbiz savvy into an entertainment empire that eventually included Noel Gay Productions. There's a dearth of data on that specific corporate entity but it seemed to serve as the unit of the conglomerate that was responsible for creating product to showcase clients of the Noel Gay Artists management division performing material from the catalogue of Noel Gay Music. Strategically shifting focus to television in the 70s, the Noel Gay Organisation is still running strong. Here's a snippet from the history section of their website:
During the 1960s Noel Gay Artists was a principal agent for a huge number of musical and pop acts including Russ Conway , Peter & Gordon , The Scaffold, Geoff Love, Manuel and His Music of the Mountains , Paul Jones etc. As a music publisher, Noel Gay provided a string of hits for Bernard Cribbins including Hole In the Ground, Right Said Fred and Gossip Calypso . The company also represented the young David Frost (who has remained with the agency ever since) and John Cleese.
While there's ample info circulating on Crystal and Noel Gay, Hubert Pattison is a horse of a different colour altogether. As a songwriter, he may not have burned up the charts but he didn't do so poorly either. Setting aside a few sporadic and indistinct singles under his own name, he saw some small scale success throughout the last half of the swingin' 60s penning songs for other performers on labels like Columbia, Deram, Parlophone, Pye and Fontana. Some of (well, actually most of) the artists who recorded his material include Billie Davis & The LeRoys, Simon Scott, The Attack, The Syn (where two future members of Yes first worked together) and Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers.

For the latter, Pattison wrote
"The Hand Don't Fit The Glove," the first single released with the vocals of one of my all-time favourite rock iconoclasts, Terry Reid. An exceptionally talented and fascinating figure, he's infamous for turning down an offer from Jimmy Page which would then then be extended to Robert Plant. Reid was also best bud/roommate to Brian Wilson at the height of his unhinged head trip in the mid-70s and if you happen to see re-runs of Wilson's fish-out-of-water performance on SNL in '76, you'll catch a glimpse of Terry on backing vocals. Thanks to the collaboration of Graham Nash, David Lindley, James Gadson, Plas Johnson, Blue Mitchell, Tim Weisberg and Fred Wesley in that same year, Seed of Memory is one my Desert Island Discs: Rock Edition. For what it's worth, seeing the video of his 1971 performance of "Dean" at Glastonbury was an outright rock 'n' roll revelation.

Four reasons to back up and check that link.

But I digress.

Of minor interest to the library hunters out there, Pattison has a couple KPM connections. A song he wrote for novelty act The Barron Knights was produced in 1967 by Syd Dale (with Landsdowne's Studio's Denis Preston) and he shares songwriter credit
with Alan Hawkshaw that same year for a couple tracks recorded by somewhat obscure British Invasion critical darlings The Tremoloes; "Happy Song" and "Norman Stanley James St Claire" which can both be found on the twofer collection Suddenly You Love Me/Chip, Dale, Alan, Rick.

According to those in the know at the Pama Forum, the obscure reggae singer Horatio Soul was actually a pseudonym used by Pattison. Considering that Horatio's signature track was Pattison's "Nobody's Gonna Sleep Tonight" (issued as a single on Crystal and included on Sioux's Unchained compilation a few years later and included as a bonus in the download), it's hard not to believe they were one and the same. No activity detected from "Horatio Soul" after that but
previously he had released a 7" on the nascent Island label in '67 - the general consensus seems to be it has value only to completist collectors of Blackwell's imprint.

Kneeling Nude Reflection with Fan
by Hubert Pattison (1974)

Besides his dozen or so songwriting and production credits, gathering biographical info on Pattison was like trying to nail down a certain popular brand-name gelatinous foodstuff. A few signs point to an art career in the 70s but that presumption is primarily based on the relative uniqueness of his name. Plug it into the Google and you'll get songwriting credits from mid-to-late 60s London, auctions of early-to-mid 70s paintings by a London artist with that name (the piece above was on UK eBay recently) and then finally a handful of spotty genealogy search results from nowhere near the UK - and from decades, or even centuries, prior to the 60s. Did I mean Pattinson? NO DAMMIT!

Finally, there's this citation from the July 5th, 1976 edition of The New Yorker magazine:
GENESIS. 41 E. 57th St.: Drawings, paintings, and sculptures by contemporary British artists, including works by Hubert Pattison, whose colored drawing of a red-eyed crying young woman stands out, and John Howard, who paints the élite at their cocktails Through Sept. 11. (Open Saturdays and Monday, July 5.)
Although the Genesis art gallery is long gone, the same East Village building continues to be used for the same purpose some 30 years later, most recently housing the Bonni Benrubi and Zabriskie galleries. Unlike that piece of New York real estate, the band did not withstand the test of time. Then again, thanks to vinyl and the blog of a dedicated music lover, in a way, it did.

Dexter - ?
Pat - ?
John - ?
Tony - ?
Geoff - ?
Mick - ?

1 Nobody's Gonna Sleep Tonight
2 Boomba Man
3 Saffron
4 Carnival Joe
5 Lela
6 Double Decker Of A Man
7 She Wrote Me A Letter
8 Rhythm Of Life
9 Oh My Head
10 Turn Around Baby
11 Shockproof
12 She'll Always Love Me

Coincidentally, I scooped this one up in the very same dollar bin where I found the Guy Warren album posted here just over a year ago. Without knowing it at the time, I got change back from a fiver for joints worth over $300 in the collectors' market! Get out there and dig kids! BTW, speaking of über rarities and Guy Warren, it's highly recommended you head over to the new Fat Toro blog for Warren's legendary Afro Jazz album and other jaw-dropping rarities! Seriously, don't sleep.

In the meantime, Soundological offers you the unique opportunity to relish this skadelic relic HERE or HERE.


ish said...

I'm not so big on ska but your detective work and storytelling is so compelling here I'm gonna give this a listen.

Thanks Cheeba!

cheeba said...

@ish, hope you enjoy!

Not a life-changing piece of art by any means but I've found it enjoyable overall and a few of the tracks nestle quite comfortably in mixtapes.

Arkadin said...

Agree with Ish: Great detective work - would you like to have my profile pic? ;) You deserve it much more. Ska is not my favorite music style but I'll try this one - thanks for your efforts!

Arkadin said...

Forgot to mention that I was confused first when I saw the name Pavement - Cheeba to post an album of that quite influental indie rock back? But then I put on my glasses and saw the date wasn't 1989 but 1969... ;)

(Oh, and many thanks for passing along Dean Christopher's comment, I was truly honored!)

cheeba said...

Actually, I love Pavement and still have their first 7"s I bought before they put out their 1st LP, as well as all the albums up to Wowee Zowee. But that's why I put the year in brackets - figured some folks might pass it if I didn't. ;)

Was happy to pass along Dean's comment since you deserve the compliments! He's a great guy and it was also nice to get some more background on the ways of the Shad!

Anonymous said...

love the history diggin'
many thanks for the info and upload!!

Slidewell said...

Man, this is a rarity that lives up to the hype! I happen to LOVE ska, and this one has the goods! AND you picked it up for a buck? That makes the story all the aweeter! thanks much for sharing a real treat such as this!

amlc24 said...

Cheeba, is there any correlation between Horatio Soul (singer of Nobodys Gonna Sleep Tonight) and Horatio Soul (Break of Dawn) posted on You Tube? Similar voices.