Friday, May 08, 2009

A Joe Meek Showcase

Joe Meek was a huge innovator in music from the 50's on through most of the 60's. He started a powerful independent British record label, Triumph, and production company, RGM. Although much as been written about his obsession with the occult, homosexuality, and the murder suicide that ended his life, Joe Meek will forever be in my heart and ears for the wonderful sound that he created. Take a listen.

The Tornados brought Joe his biggest stateside hit with the instrumental Telstar. Here is a rare scopitone of the band playing their 1963 song Robot.

Although it hit #1 in the UK, Have I the Right by the Honeycombs stalled at #5 in the US. The Honeycombs, featuring drummer Honey Lantree seem to be trying to catch up with the track in this clip from the film Pop Gear. They should be. To add more energy to the track, Joe sped it up in the mastering process. Notice the stomping percussion performed by the entire band during the chorus. It's another signature Joe meek move. He had the entire band jump in unison on his studios wooden stairs to get just the right sound.

Johnny Layton was just one of the many vocalists that brought Joe many UK hits. Check out the footage of Joe manning his beloved tape machines in this video.

Rumors abound about how Joe's infatuation with Tornadoes bassist Heinz Burt, shown here singing the title track to the film Live It Up, led to Joe promoting Heinz as a solo singer and allegedly using another vocalist to actually perform the singing. This video of Heinz lip-syncing along to his Meek produced Cochran tribute on a show called Oldie Parade does little to dispel the myth.

Sorry there's no live footage of The Outlaws, and the image of Richie Blackmore here is a bit out of place since he didn't join the band until later in their career, but what a great tune. I implore you to find yourself a copy of The Outlaws Ride Again or Dream of The West and to spend the summer spend your summer in full western gear.

If this has whetted your appetite for more Joe Meek. Check out the dramatic tale of Joe's life, Telstar, which should be out this summer in the UK or be patient for the in-the-works documentary A Life in the Death of Joe Meek.


Daniel Poeira said...

My next son will be named Scopitone.

MayorMike said...


Watch out. People will probably pronounce it Scope-A-Tony.

Yeah, those old things are pretty amazing. they are all so awkward and kinda creepy. There's tons of them up on YouYube.