As a long-time fan of male/female duets, I’ve often wondered why the concept caught fire during the 60s. Right now, some ethnomusicology grad student is probably assessing the socio-political factors behind the popularity of Sonny and Cher, Ian and Sylvia, George and Tammy, Nancy and Lee, Loretta and Conway, Charlie and Inez, Dolly and Porter and Marvin and Tammi, but even if the mystery’s never solved, we can still enjoy the residual effects of the trend thanks to compilations like He & She (Pet Records).
Released as part of the excellent Soft Sounds For Gentle People series of 60s pop-psych archival collections, He & She goes beyond the obvious hits by the familiar stars to uncover an amazing album track or dope B-side by overlooked artists who deserve more attention than they got. There’s a cool number, Circus, by Jim and Cathy Post, aka Friend & Lover, left off their reissue CD; the Source’s fab You Don’t Know What’s Going On, from the Joe soundtrack; Rannee & Raj’s mystical Rainbow Land, along with other corkers by Smokey and His Sister, Petticoat and Vine and Morley that are too good to miss. www.forcedexposure.com.
No tell Votel
As many reissues of funky joints from the 60s and 70s as there are in circulation, there would likely be 100 times as many if archival labels didn’t need to license the recordings, track down and interview the original artists for the liner notes and dig up vintage photographs to complete their packages. Prolific reissue compiler Andy Votel knows the score, and he’s found a way around the heavy lifting by putting out mix discs with no information about the artists, songs, composers or musicians involved, just like the old label “cover-up” gimmick employed by paranoid Northern soul DJs back in the day.
Like Votel’s two previous secret squirrel sets, One Nation Under A Grave (Fat City) continues to tap the moodier side of funky grooves created around the globe, touching on nutty nodders from Spain, Turkey, Sweden, Poland, France and South America. Let’s just hope the Russian Mob doesn’t own the rights to any of the Eastern European jams Votel has jacked; they tend not to use lawyers to settle disputes. www.fatcity.co.uk.
It’s been almost two years since Go-Betweens singer/songwriter Grant McLennan died in his sleep at the age of 49, and every time I hear one of his amazing tunes I’m taken back to the times we hung out in Toronto discussing Two Lane Blacktop and the unusual popularity of the name Gord across Canada.
The recent Love Goes On (Rare Victory) tribute disc, with covers of his more memorable tunes contributed by Ed Kuepper, the Bats, Stars, Ivy, Portastatic, the Clientele, Trembling Blue Stars, the Orchids and others conjured fond memories of those good times, even though I can’t say any of the revisions improve on what McLennan recorded himself. A talent like his, baby, you won’t find it again. www.myspace.com/RareVictory.