mon 27/09/2021

Reissue CDs Weekly: Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times

Reissue CDs Weekly: Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times

How a New York band became an essential part of the British Sixties pop boom

Goldie & the Gingerbreads in 1965, at the height of their British adventureAce Records

In October 1964, New York’s Goldie & the Gingerbreads boarded the RMS Mauretania for Southampton. In the midst of the British Invasion, they were taking on the beat boom at its coal face.

The Beatles, Animals, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones and more were cleaning up in their home country but – counter intuitively – Genya Zelkowitz aka Genya Ravan aka Goldie and co went in the opposite direction. Their champions in this venture were The Animals and their manager Mike Jeffrey. Rolling Stone Keith Richards also claimed to have discovered them at a New York party he’d attended with Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham.

Echoing this odyssey, Richards would see Jimi Hendrix in New York in May 1966 and went on to mention him to The Animals’ Chas Chandler. In September 1966, just under two years on from Goldie & the Gingerbreads’ arrival in London, Hendrix arrived in the UK – now co-managed Chandler and Jeffrey.

Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good TimesUnlike Hendrix, a real, sustained commercial breakthrough was just out of reach for Goldie & the Gingerbreads while they were in the UK. This despite the Animals’ hook-up, touring with The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and Yardbirds, appearances on Ready Steady Go!, tons of press coverage, John Lennon popping round their London flat, sessions with red-hot producer Shel Talmy and a hit single of “Can't You Hear my Heartbeat” (Herman’s Hermits had the hit version in the US). The Kinks’ Ray Davies gave the band his “Look For me Baby” to record but, boat-missingly, it wasn’t issued at the time. The band played their final show together in early October 1965 and a solo Goldie single emerged on Oldham’s Immediate label in February 1966. There was then a band reunion in New York, but it was over by Spring 1967. Even with the breaks, Goldie & the Gingerbreads had not quite clicked.

Thinking About The Good Times – Complete Recordings 1964–1966 tells the full story. Genya “Goldie” Ravan, Ginger Bianco and Margo Lewis, the three surviving members of the band, have been interviewed. The line-up changes and the ups and downs are charted. Goldie & the Gingerbreads may have seemed a non sequiteur when the landed in the UK but what’s made clear is the ground which had been laid. Like Hendrix, they were seasoned musicians. They formed in 1962 and in September 1963 had even toured continental Europe as support to Chubby Checker. On their own during these dates, they headlined Hamburg’s Star Club. By the time the Brits encountered them in New York in 1964, they knew what was going on the other side of the Atlantic. Irrespective of the dry-run-for-Hendrix aspect, it’s an amazing tale.

Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times_RSGEverything Goldie & the Gingerbreads released while they were active is collected on Thinking About The Good Times. Crucially, their pre-UK, US-only tracks are included. Also heard are previously unissued masters recorded in New York for Atlantic during May and June 1966. The 20 tracks (16 on the vinyl version) track a band thoroughly in tune with its times. Soon after their arrival in the UK, New Musical Express described them as “an all-girl rhythm ‘n’ blues group.” A Decca press release pointed to the “bluesy vocal” of their second (of three) UK 45, “That’s Why I Love You”. The overt poppiness of “Can't You Hear my Heartbeat” didn’t capture the true musical soul of Goldie & the Gingerbreads. (pictured left, Goldie & the Gingerbreads on Ready Steady Go!, 9 April 1965)

Regardless of the odd stabs at grabbing the pop-hit brass ring, blues and soul drove Goldie & the Gingerbreads. In the US, their first single was 1964’s “Skinny Vinnie” a re-write of “Skinny Minnie”. In spite of some parping twist-type sax, it’s tough. When they were in the UK, they did record cover versions but guitarist Carol MacDonald was writing songs, as was keyboard player Margo Lewis. Goldie Zelkowitz also began writing.

Goldie & the Gingerbreads - Thinking About The Good Times_JaggerAmongst the gems are “The Skip”, a soulful, groovy organ-driven instrumental UK B-side written by Lewis. It’s as good as anything recorded by Georgie Fame. “Margo's Groove”, a previously unheard instro from the 1966 Atlantic sessions, is another blues-soul instrumental winner. The vocal song “I See You've Come Again”, another previously unreleased cut, was written by Zelkowitz and is great, moody and akin to what Dave Berry was perfecting around the same time. (pictured right, Goldie & the Gingerbreads with Mick Jagger, March 1965)

Of the covers, “That's Why I Love You” and “Little Boy” are choice. The former is a classy big-beat uptown New York soul ballad. The shimmering “Little Boy” is extremely dramatic, and it’s impossible not to wonder what might have happened if it, rather than “Can't You Hear my Heartbeat” had been to the topside of their debut UK single. It may not have been a hit, but it would have drawn a line in the sand saying that Goldie & the Gingerbreads were about more than pop.

Thinking About The Good Times – Complete Recordings 1964–1966 is an important release. What’s heard is impressive, and that would be enough. But it goes further by confirming that Goldie & the Gingerbreads were an essential part of the British pop boom of the Sixties. Not bad for a band from New York.

@MrKieronTyler

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