Sunday, 5 April 2015

Nothing But The Truth: RPM Uncovers Complete Recordings of Sixties Mod Duo

In keeping with its mission of uncovering some of the best, criminally-unknown pop of the 1960s, RPM has just unveiled Who’s Wrong? Mod Bedlam 1965-1969 from the mod-R&B duo known as The Truth.  Frank Aiello and Steve Jameson issued seven singles between 1965 and 1968 and even notched a minor hit with their recording of The Beatles’ “Girl,” but have gone largely unrecognized in the decades since.  RPM’s compilation rights that wrong, and collects all of the duo’s singles plus a number of previously unissued recordings. 

Friends with The Small Faces and Marc Bolan (then known as Mark Feld), onetime hairdressers Aiello and Jameson came upon the professional music business in the unlikeliest of ways.  Stefan Granados’ comprehensive liner notes reveal that Jameson was cutting the hair of a taxi driver named Jeff Cooper when the taxi driver mentioned he was looking for a Righteous Brothers-esque duo to record a song he’d written.  Jameson assured Cooper that he and fellow hairdresser Aiello could do his song justice, but didn’t think much would come of it – until Cooper earned them a deal with Pye Records to record his song!  Though Cooper’s lush “Baby Don’t You Know” owed more to the Walker Brothers than to the mod scene, Aiello and Jameson – now known as The Truth – were game.  They went on to record three more singles for Pye with such A-listers as Big Jim Sullivan on guitar and Johnny Harris on keyboards.  The second, “Who’s Wrong” b/w “She’s a Roller,” were more in the rock/R&B direction the duo hoped to embrace, but it was the third single – Lennon and McCartney’s “Girl” – that hit pay dirt.  Sensing that perhaps he could hit on a formula of cover recordings, Cooper guided The Truth through another single with the A-side of Ray Davies’ “I Go to Sleep” (with a Johnny Harris chart) before parting ways with the duo. 

The success of “Girl” got The Truth booked on a package tour with The Small Faces and Crispian St. Peters (“The Pied Piper”), and St. Peters introduced them to Dave Nicolson who would become their next manager.  Nicolson bought their contract from Cooper and got The Truth signed to Decca’s new imprint for contemporary rock, Deram.  At Deram, The Truth recorded two more familiar songs – The Troggs’ “Jingle Jangle” b/w Donovan’s “Hey Gyp”- before Deram transferred the duo to its parent label Decca.  For the first of two Decca singles, The Truth reinterpreted The Left Banke’s harmony-pop classic “Walk Away Renee” in a less ornate style, boasting guitar that Nicolson recalls being played by Jimmy Page.  Around this time, Jameson began composing songs himself, and a couple of his own compositions found their way to B-sides. 

The Truth’s tenure at Decca ended with the single release of “Sueno,” a Young Rascals track arranged by lead guitarist Page, featuring Nicky Hopkins on piano.  At the same session, two other songs were recorded.  While Jameson’s original “My Magazine” hasn’t survived, the group did record a strong rendition of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “I Can’t Make It Alone” which premieres here.  Despite the strength of “Sueno” and Jameson’s B-side “Old Ma Brown,” the single didn’t impress commercially, and The Truth went their separate ways.  RPM’s anthology concludes with a pair of tracks recorded by Aiello under the name Shere Khan for the Tepee label in 1969. 

Granados fills us in that Aiello would co-found the hard rock band Bedlam in the seventies, while Jameson would record for Pye’s Dawn subsidiary before charting a hit as Nosmo King and then shifting gears to become a comedian.  Over its 18 tracks, however, Who’s Wrong shows The Truth as formidable purveyors of mod-style R&B and pop.  The collection has been re-mastered by Simon Murphy, and is available below from RPM! 

The Truth, What’s Wrong?: Mod Bedlam 1965-1969 (RPM Retro 962, 2015)

1.Baby You’ve Got It (Pye 7N 17095-B, 1966)

2.She’s a Roller (Pye 7N 15998-B, 1965)

3.Baby Don’t You Know (Pye 7N 15923-A, 1965)

4.Come On Home (Pye 7N 15923-B, 1965)

5.Jailer Bring Me Water (Pye 7N 17035-B, 1966)

6.Who’s Wrong (Pye 7N 15998-A, 1965)

7.Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness) (Deram DM 105-B, 1966)

8.I Go to Sleep (Pye 7N 17095-A, 1966)

9.Girl (Pye 7N 17035-A, 1966)

10.Jingle Jangle (Deram DM 105-A, 1966)

11.Walk Away Renee (Decca F 12582-A, 1967)

12.Fly Away Bird (Decca F 12582-B, 1967)

13.Busker Bill (previously unreleased)

14.Old Ma Brown (Decca F 12764-B, 1968)

15.Sueno (Decca F 12764-A, 1968)

16.I Can’t Make It Alone (previously unreleased)

17.Little Louise – Shere Khan (Tepee TPR 1007-A, 1969)

18.No Reason – Shere Khan (Tepee TPR 1007-B, 1969)

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