Over the weekend I’ve been listening again to a pair of Various Artists compilations that I hadn’t heard for a while and decided to share a couple of highlights from them which I think you might just really, really, really like.
Firstly a track that kicks off and also partially gives its name to a CD collection with the frankly overlong title: Joe Meek – Freakbeat: You’re Holding Me Down (30 Freakbeat, Mod and R&B Nuggets) which Castle put out in 2006.
I’m told that back in the mid 1960s, an exciting music scene existed on the East Coast of Scotland and venues like McGoos on Edinburgh’s High Street staged headline shows by some of the best bands in Britain including The Who, The Kinks and The Troggs, while a multitude of local hopefuls played in pubs and clubs across the Lothians and further afield, many building up a sizeable fan base.
These acts included The Purple Eyes, The Spellbinders and, most notably, The Boston Dexters – instantly recognisable in their 1920s Chicago gangster get-up – who recorded some fine singles in their short time together. In the wake of their demise, singer Tam White and guitarist Johnny Turnbull put together a new combo called The Buzz and this outfit provided Britain with one of its most exhilarating 45s of the era, You’re Holding Me Down.
The track’s fade-out in particular is superb with squalls of raging guitar and some surprisingly psychedelic touches from sonic innovator Joe Meek but best of all is Tam White who gives one of the most demented vocal performances you’re ever likely to hear; a rasping, broken man who sounds like his vocal chords are being torn from his throat as he sings.
You’re Holding Me Down came out on the Columbia label on April Fools’ Day, 1966 but made little impact. Twenty years later a newly recorded song seemed to aim for a sound that I’m guessing, even if it had come out in 1966 itself, might already have struck many listeners as slightly dated. This would make even less impact than You’re Holding Me Down and, like that track, would only reach a wider audience many years later when it too surfaced on another compilation with Nuggets in its title.
Rhino’s 2005 box set, Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era, 1976-1995 lacks the consistency of the original 1972 Nuggets double L.P. compiled by Jac Holzman, the founder of Elektra Records, and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, but there are some fantastic tracks scattered throughout each of its four CDs such as God Knows Its True and Metal Baby by Teenage Fanclub and Tracy Hyde by The Wondermints.
Best of all though is this originally highly obscure track by The Nashville Ramblers that could almost be The La’s covering a lost classic by The Hollies. The Trains is three minutes and ten seconds of perfect pop that pisses over just about everything that made the charts in the conservative climate that prevailed post-Live Aid.
Just think, in 1986, Mr Mister, Starship and Peter Cetera all scored #1 singles in the U.S. and the dreary Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms spent 10 weeks as Britain’s best-selling album and yet, as Kieron Tyler pointed out in his liner notes for Children of Nuggets: ‘Despite being based in San Francisco and originally having come from San Diego, The Nashville Ramblers only vinyl appearance was in the UK, via The Trains inclusion on the Brit-only mod-comp LP American Heart And Soul.’
Luckily that vinyl release did eventually happen, a couple of tracks by the band being remastered from the original tapes and put out by Ugly Things Records in January 2011 and well done to Ugly Things for that.
For more on the Nashville Ramblers: https://www.facebook.com/thenashvilleramblers
You’re Holding Me Down Trivia: In 1987, Tam White was chosen to provide the vocals for Big Jazza McGlone, played by Robbie Coltrane, in John Byrne’s award winning BBC Scotland TV drama Tutti Frutti which told the story of The Majestics, an ageing Scottish rock ’ n’ roll band celebrating their ‘Silver Jubilee’. He also appeared as an actor in Braveheart, Rebus and Taggart. Tam died in 2007, aged 67.