The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside & Thump and Twang CDs

The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside (Pacemaker PACE-086, 2011)
The Ugly Ducklings – Thump & Twang (Pacemaker PACE-087, 2011)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

Considered by many to be Canada’s premier ’60s garage rock outfit, for decades fans of The Ugly Ducklings had to content themselves with the group’s handful of Yorktown singles and one LP, Somewhere Outside. So it was with some shock I discovered these two (two!) CDs just released by Pacemaker, and as far as I can tell all but one cut on them are previously unavailable!

The Somewhere Inside set comes first chronologically and has as its basis a January 1967 appearance on CHUM radio in the Ducklings’ hometown of Toronto. Framed by on-air interview segments are six live in studio recordings, three demos, and one alternate mix. The live in studio tracks are all of good fidelity, and of the familiar numbers also recorded for Yorkville, “Nothin'” features a more elastic and looser Roger Mayne lead guitar, while this “My Little Red Book” is a bit faster and more like the Love version.

Another of the tracks listed as “live” is “My Watch” which is an original Dave Bingham and Glynn Bell composition and has a solid funky blues quality to it. The cover of “I’m A Man” did turn up previously in Sundazed’s Garage Beat ’66 compilation series, but it goes well with the short take on “Home In Your Heart”.

Of the three songs listed as demos (only here does the fidelity vary, though never too badly), all are covers. “Somebody Help Me” was a hit for the Hollies, “You’ve Got It Made” is the blues song, and “Out Of Sight” the soul number. There is also a great alternate mix of “Postman’s Fancy” which has a more psychedelic effect than the original side. With all the historic interview and radio segments this disc makes a good addition to the Ugly Ducklings collection.

The recordings on Thump & Twang begin with a November 1967 studio session wherein new member Mike McKenna’s original “The Blues Fell This Morning” is cut. Following Glynn Bell’s departure the Ducklings continued recording as a four piece, still fronted by singer Dave Bingham and backed by original drummer Robin Boers who is said to have added a second bass drum ala Ginger Baker at this time. Aside from two takes of Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge A Book” (one being from a TV appearance), all tracks are written by Bingham and/or McKenna. They’re all solid early 1968 vintage blues rock pointing toward the future Mainline group and sometimes with a bit of a Byrds country vibe. Apparently this was not the kind of hit single music Yorkville had been hoping for however, and after the falling out with their label the Ugly Ducklings broke up.

See the Pacemaker site for more information on this release.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

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4 thoughts on “The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside & Thump and Twang CDs”

  1. Interesting, especially the first CD, I’ve long been a fan of their great LP Somewhere Outside…I would imagine by the title, the cover you mention of “Somebody help me” being the song by the Spencer Davis Group rather than the Hollies…mind you they backed the Everly Brothers doing it on the Two Yanks in England LP…

  2. Thanks for the correction! It was Spencer Davis who covered Jackie Edwards’ Somebody Help Me, I was having an audio delusion in hearing it by the Hollies.

  3. wouldn,t it be something to arrange a reunion of many of the 60,s Toronto bands,close off Yorkville Ave. and have them perform? Somebody should get on that.

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