sat 25/05/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: Glenda Collins, Heinz, David John & The Mood - the latest treasures from Joe Meek's Tea Chest Tapes | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Glenda Collins, Heinz, David John & The Mood - the latest treasures from Joe Meek's Tea Chest Tapes

Music Reissues Weekly: Glenda Collins, Heinz, David John & The Mood - the latest treasures from Joe Meek's Tea Chest Tapes

Unique perspective on the independent approach to getting a Sixties pop record into the shops

November 1963. Glenda Collins celebrates the release of her Joe Meek-produced and penned single “If You’ve Got to Pick a Baby.” These days, copies of the promotional issue she’s holding fetch upwards of £50Cherry Red Records

Restraint wasn’t the watchword. Around March 1965, Heinz was in Joe Meek’s North London recording studio taping “Big Fat Spider,” which became the B-side of his April single version of “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright.” A run-through which didn’t end up on the record found guitarist Richie Blackmore tossing off blistering lead runs so frenzied, so spikey, so wayward they might – had the track been issued – have caused radio producers to check whether the single had a pressing fault.

It’s the same with previously unheard versions of Heinz’s “Movin’ In” and “I’m Not A Bad Guy,” the next tracks heard on The White Tornado - The Holloway Road Sessions 1963-1966. In a different form, these two became his last single, issued in June 1966. Again, that fevered guitar.

Heinz The White Tornado - The Holloway Road Sessions 1963-1966Heinz issued 11 singles, two EPs and one album between 1963 and 1966. Just over 40 tracks. The five CD box set The White Tornado collects 131 tracks – 100 of which have not been heard before. It represents every Heinz recording found in what’s dubbed the “Tea Chest Tapes,” the cache of around 1900 tape reels which were sold on after Meek took his own life in February 1967 once he’d murdered his landlady. After over five decades in storage, they were bought by the Cherry Red label in August 2020.

His biggest hit was “Just Like Eddie,” and the set’s four different versions might be a bit much for some listeners. The same can be said for five renditions of Heinz’s “Tribute To Eddie.” However, those with an active interest in maverick Sixties producer Joe Meek and the extraordinary do-it-yourself world he inhabited will want all of this and more. Especially as, for the first time, it’s clear what’s heard comes direct from the studio tapes. The White Tornado offers head-spinning access into Meek’s domain.

The White Tornado is as untrammelled an experience as the specs above suggest. It’s amongst the first-ever one-stop peeks into the whole of Meek’s creative process: from demo, through multiple recording sessions to a finished take. For the latter, it’s now possible to hear what would be issued before it was sped-up for mastering on vinyl. Meek habitually did this as it gave an edge; a sonic cut through which stood out during hoped-for radio play. It was a classic trick. In 1978, the same process was applied to the single of The Clash’s “Clash City Rockers.”

GLENDA COLLINS, BABY IT HURTS - THE HOLLOWAY ROAD SESSIONSConsidering the jerry-built nature of Meek’s Holloway Road set-up – in flat above a shop – the box set brings into play a counter-intuitive realisation: Meek was not slapdash. Take after take was needed to get what he had in his head down on tape. Whatever the outré nature of the result, getting there was an exacting process. While Heinz – a limited singer – is not ideally dwelt on forensically, The White Tornado reveals so much about Meek’s processes it becomes more than a box set dedicated to a single singer. It is about the totality of Meek. Obviously, then, this is not an entry point Heinz collection.

So far, Cherry Red have adopted a twin-track approach to the archive drawn from by The White Tornado. There have been 10-inch LPs dedicated to Heinz, the I Hear A New World project and The Tornados’ “Telstar.” These streamlined records are analogous with Tea Chest best-ofs. Heinz has now become the subject of the first of a deeper-digging series of releases. There is also the similarly-inclined three-CD Glenda Collins set, Baby It Hurts - The Holloway Road Sessions 1963-1966 and Diggin' For Gold, a single CD dedicated to David John & The Mood. It’s fair to assume that box sets digging into The Tornados and I Hear A New World will arrive in due course. Correspondingly, a Glenda Collins 10-inch is on the horizon.

All the general points above also apply to Baby It Hurts. Unlike Heinz, Glenda Collins never hit the charts. Her eight-single run with Meek on HMV and Pye followed an equally hitless spell with Decca over 1960 and 1961. Meek was obviously committed to her talent – the singles were supplemented by sessions for an unreleased album made with backing group The Riot Squad (seven tracks surviving from it are heard here). Of the 79-track Baby It Hurts, 66 tracks (including Meek’s own demos) have never been issued before. Meek’s dedication to Collins was clear.

DAVID JOHN & THE MOOD, DIGGIN' FOR GOLD JOE MEEK'S TEA CHEST TAPESCollins is easier on the ear than Heinz, and the style of material tackled is broader than the rock or rock-a-ballads he was suited to. Which underlines another aspect of Meek rammed home by these sets. He was not a one-trick stylist. Collins tackles Brenda Lee-style rockers, moody ballads, beaty material, soul-inclined groovers, florid folk rock. She is at ease with it all, yet nothing stuck. The Meek-i-fied versions of “Can I Get a Witness,” “Dancing in the Street” and “Mockingbird” are as convincing as, say, contemporary singles by Beryl Marsden. “Hear That Train A’Coming” is a soul-inclined recording of unknown authorship from 1965 which sounds like a finished master and would have made, as the liner notes point out, a great single. The reason for Glenda Collins’ lack of commercial success remains a head scratch.

Preston’s David John & The Mood were less malleable, less versatile than Glenda Collins. They came to Meek in 1965, after one single for Vocalion, issued in May 1964. With him as their producer, two singles emerged on Parlophone on March and July 1965. The band spilt in early 1966. All three 45s are cherished, rare, super-expensive examples of post-Rolling Stones British R&B. Diggin' For Gold (which, for completeness, includes the non-Meek Vocalian 45) collects alternate versions and backing tracks of what they recorded with Meek – there are four versions of the title cut, including what was issued before it was sped-up for vinyl, as well as the then-unissued “The Little Old Heartbreaker me.” As with the Glenda Collins set, Diggin' For Gold confirms that Meek did move with the times: new musical styles and trends came along, he got on board. But whatever the merits of David John & The Mood’s terrific singles, they didn’t click with buyers.

Aligning any of these three releases with mainstream music biz notions of what archive releases might be is impossible. Each has a limited audience. It’s unlikely the previously uninitiated are going to be converted to the particular aspects of Sixties British pop they focus on. But each – as noted above with respect to the Heinz set – is about more than Joe Meek, the band or singer heard. Herewith, from an independent perspective, the nuts and bolts of the entire process of getting a Sixties pop record into the shops.

@MrKieronTyler

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