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Another British Invasion From RPM: Ian and the Zodiacs, Katch-22 Reissued

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The RPM arm of the U.K.’s mighty Cherry Red empire has had a busy 2011, recently highlighted by the first-ever collection of the young Dusty Springfield’s recordings with The Lana Sisters.  The label’s latest titles shed light on two largely-overlooked bands to come out of England in the 1960s, Ian and the Zodiacs and Katch 22.  The Best of Ian and the Zodiacs: Wade in the Water and Major Catastrophe: The Katch 22 Story are both in stores now, and have much to offer fans of Merseybeat, mod, sunshine pop and lite psychedelia.

Crosby, Merseyside, may be best-known today as the home of Anne Robinson (“You are the Weakest Link.  Goodbye!”) but it also birthed Ian and the Zodiacs.  Bassist Charlie Flynn told John Reed, “Right from the off, I wanted to do Gene Vincent, that sort of stuff.  But the Zodiacs were different.  Ian [Edwards] was more ballady and that suited me because I was more into rock ‘n’ roll and soul with a more raucous voice.  So we mixed it up.”  The mixing up of styles is in evidence on “Wade in the Water,” their swansong single that sounds every inch a hit.  The new compilation chronicles the band’s various line-ups, taking in the best of their output for Fontana, Philips and the Star Club label, a joint venture between that legendary venue and Philips.  Like their Liverpool contemporaries The Beatles, Ian and the Zodiacs played successful residencies at The Star Club.  They tipped their hat to their mates with a cover of George Harrison’s “I Need You,” included on the new disc.  (The Zodiacs’ “Help!” and “Nowhere Man” are absent.)  There are Motown tributes with “Going to a Go-Go,” “Baby, I Need Your Loving” and Shorty Long’s “It’s a Crying Shame.”  You’ll also find guitar-driven spins on Burt Bacharach classics like “Any Day Now,” “Message to Martha” and Merseybeat favorite “This Empty Place,” although their “Make It Easy on Yourself” didn’t make the cut. 

Among the other familiar songs are Allen Toussaint’s “Ride Your Pony,” the Dobie Gray hit “The In Crowd” and Otis Redding’s “Respect” in a rocking rendition.  The originals showed that The Zodiacs were closely studying their influences, as they’re equally terrific: the fuzz-guitar-led “No Money, No Honey,” and the freakbeat-style “Na-Na-Na-Na-Na.”  “Why Can’t It Be Me” takes off from Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” riff.  The Zodiacs navigated Teddy Randazzo’s sophisticated soul on “Can’t Stop Running Away” and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ pop-ish “So Much in Love with You” (given by The Glimmer Twins to the band The Mighty Avengers!) with equal aplomb.  The Zodiacs never hit in big in America, despite their rendition of “The Crying Game” racking up huge sales in Texas, of all places!  But Wade in the Water finally gives stateside listeners a chance to see what all the U.K. fuss was about!

Hit the jump for the story of Katch-22!

Unlike the deeper catalogue of Ian and the Zodiacs, Katch-22 only recorded one album, 1968’s budget-labe  It’s Soft Rock and All Sorts, It’s Katch-22 on Saga Records.  But RPM has combined the Saga LP with a clutch of singles recorded for Fontana to create this definitive anthology.  1966’s driving, electric “Major Catastrophe,” their first A-side issued by Fontana, gives the collection its title.  The song and its mellow, Hollies-esque B-side, “Hold Me,” were written by one Tokenam Aw, the oddly-named entrepreneur and svengali behind the group, a foursome consisting of Mike Eastman, Paul Bonner, Martin Godbold and Robert Godbold.  Despite the band’s musical talents, Aw insisted on utilizing session musicians for these early tracks. 

Following Robert’s departure and replacement with Paul Clifton, the beat group sound made way for mod (Aw’s “Pumpkin Mini”) and orchestrated pop (the infectious “Makin’ My Mind Up” b/w “While We’re Friends”).  “Makin’ My Mind Up” was written by two names familiar to any White Whale aficionados, Dalton and Montgomery, and also recorded, of course, by The Turtles.  The Saga LP continued in this more lush direction, consisting of both covers and band originals.  Buffalo Springfield fans will enjoy Katch-22’s take on “Go and Say Goodbye.”  RPM has also uncovered radio performances including an offbeat cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Fakin’ It.”  Katch-22 also recorded the duo’s “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” and on Major Catastrophe you’ll find another groovy slice of pop, Tom Bahler and Keith Colley’s “Groovy Summertime.”  Also from the Saga LP are recordings of “Windy” and “Walk Away Renee.”  The music recorded between 1966 and 1969 by the band sums up many of the various musical directions being explored at the time, and there’s much to offer on this collection.  Sunshine pop fans should find tracks like “We’re Still Friends” to be lost classics with harmonies, brass accents and melody to spare.

Both compilations are in stores now.  Order links and full track listings follow!

Ian and the Zodiacs, The Best of Ian and the Zodiacs: Wade in the Water (RPM Retro 892, 2011)                

  1. Wade in the Water
  2. As You Used to Do
  3. Going to a Go-Go
  4. Why Can’t It Be Me
  5. Any Day Now
  6. Headin’ Back to You
  7. Baby, I Need Your Loving
  8. This Won’t Happen to Me
  9. What Kind of Fool
  10. No Money, No Honey
  11. Respect
  12. Na-Na-Na-Na-Na
  13. (Take a) Message to Martha
  14. Ride Your Pony
  15. Clarabella
  16. Come On Along, Girl
  17. The In Crowd
  18. It’s a Crying Shame
  19. Can’t Stop Running Away
  20. This Empty Place
  21. I Need You
  22. Leave It To Me
  23. The Crying Game
  24. No, Not Another Night
  25. So Much in Love with You
  26. Where Were You

Tracks 1 & 16 from Fontana TF-708, 1966
Tracks 2, 6, 9, 17-19, 21, 24 from Just Listen To…, Star Club LP 158020STY, 1966
Tracks 3 & 11 from Locomotive!, Star Club LP 158029STY, 1966
Tracks 4 & 22 from Star Club 148543STF, 1966
Tracks 5 & 12 from Star Club 148572STF, 1966
Tracks 7, 13, 15, 20, 25 from Star Club Show 7, Star Club LP 158007STY, 1965
Track 8 from Fontana TF-548, 1965
Tracks 10 & 14 from Star Club 148548STF, 1966
Track 17 from Fontana (Netherlands) 279335TF, 1966
Track 23 from Philips (U.S.) 40244, 1965
Track 26 from Fontana TF-708, 1966

Katch-22, Major Catastrophe: The Katch-22 Story (RPM Retro 893, 2011)

  1. Major Catastrophe
  2. Hold Me
  3. Makin’ My Mind Up
  4. While We’re Friends
  5. The World’s Getting Smaller
  6. Don’t Bother
  7. Pumpkin Mini
  8. 100,000 Years
  9. Out of My Life
  10. Baby Love
  11. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
  12. Fakin’ It
  13. Pumpkin Mini
  14. Too Young to Be One
  15. Walk Away Renee
  16. There Ain’t No Use in Hangin’ On
  17. Seldom
  18. Groovy Summertime
  19. Don’t Listen
  20. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
  21. Windy
  22. Open Up Your Eyes
  23. Thoughts on a Rainy Day
  24. Go and Say Goodbye
  25. Wishing

Tracks 1-2 from Fontana TF-768, 1966
Tracks 3-4 from Fontana TF-874, 1967
Tracks 5-6 from Fontana TF-930, 1968
Tracks 7-8 from Fontana TF-984, 1968
Tracks 9-10 from Fontana TF-1005, 1969
Tracks 11-14 from BBC Radio One performance of 3/1/69
Tracks 15-26 from It’s Soft Rock and All Sorts, It’s Katch-22, Saga LP EROS-8014, 1968

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2011 at 10:57

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