A Tu Vera

MR 393LP MR 393LP

"The Tomcats' story begins in Ealing, West London, where Tom Newman (vocals, guitar), Peter Cook (lead guitar), Alan James (bass), and Chris Jackson (drums) first began playing together as The Dreamers. When Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies opened the Ealing Club in 1962, it became a magnet for young blues enthusiasts, many of whom would go on to form their own R&B groups, including The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and Manfred Mann. Evenings spent at the Ealing Club had a similar effect on members of The Dreamers, who soon afterwards retooled their repertoire and rebranded as The Tomcats. Another Ealing-based group, The Second Thoughts, were thinking along the same lines . . . It was inevitable that their stories would eventually entwine. In 1964 The Second Thoughts recorded some demos at a studio in Rickmansworth. However, the band parted company shortly afterwards when three of the members (Tony Duhig, Mickey Holmes, and John 'Speedy' Keen) headed for Spain to accompany the French nightclub singer Teddy Ray. When they returned to England a few months later, they immediately set about putting a new band . . . Meanwhile, The Tomcats had also broken up, so it was only natural that the remnants of the two bands join forces. Initially called The Thoughts, the new group featured Tom Newman, Tony Duhig, Mickey Holmes, Jon Field, and Speedy Keen. Soon afterwards Speedy was replaced by original Tomcats drummer Chris Jackson, at which point they decided to readopt the Tomcats name . . . Philips signed the band, which resulted in the release of four EPs in 1965 and 1966. While the majority of the songs were remakes of recent hits, The Tomcats deliver them with enough guts and gusto to make them more than worthwhile. The group also chose to cover a few Spanish numbers, most notably 'A Tu Vera', a song best known by the iconic singer, dancer and movie actress Lola Flores. The Tomcats transformed the dramatic flamenco torch song into a wild, fuzz guitar-spattered rocker. They also recorded the title song to one of her movies, 'Ay Pena, Penita, Pena', updated with a throbbing bass line, thumping jungle drums and a stinging fuzz guitar solo. A small handful of original numbers were also scattered across the four EPs, including the moody ballad 'Running At Shadows', 'It Ain't Right', and the Mersey-style 'Don't Ask For Me'. While in Spain, The Tomcats were cast in a comedy film, Operación secretaria, performing the thrilling punk R&B number 'Two Minds In Tune'. That song makes its first appearance on vinyl here, along with a fine version of Reverend Gary Davis's 'Cocaine' and a rowdy original number, 'Don't Let It Go'." --Mike Stax