21 January 2018

The Troys - Gotta Fit You Into My Life/ Take Care

Label: Tower
Year of Release: 1968

Chicago's The Troys were something of a starting base for numerous people who went on to join other (arguably more significant) musical projects. Featuring the likes of Mark Gallagher, who joined The Litter,  Michael Bean, who later graced Lovecraft and The Call with his presence, and having this single penned by Bob Susser who later went on to become a writer and performer of children's music, there was certainly no shortage of talent in the group.

Both sides of this 45 consist of lushly arranged, orchestrally backed pop with harmony vocals at the forefront. The A-side is pleasant but possibly doesn't have a strong enough hook to really stand out - for my money (and it is, after all, my money) the flip has more of a swing and an organ-based groove to it, and might please readers of this blog a bit more. Either road, though, leads to slightly hippified sunshine pop, and that can never be a totally bad thing. 

After release flopped, The Troys seem to have popped up again as Pendragon for their last release on Tower "Never Gonna Go Back", which was recently included on the "High All The Time" compilation series.

17 January 2018

Daryl Quist - True To You/ Above And Beyond

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1964

Daryl Quist was part of Larry Parnes' stable of artists in the early sixties, which was filled to the brim with young, professional artistes who would excite the teenagers but not upset the Mums and Dads too much by being needlessly uncouth or raucous. Arriving on these shores fresh from Canada as the dancer in Tommy Steele's panto "Humpty Dumpty", he was promptly spotted by Parnes and groomed for success - a challenge, as Parnes claimed "he hadn't sung a note in his life, except in the bath" - but despite a good contract with Pye and four singles on that label, he just couldn't break through. A further release on Decca in 1965 also paid no dividends.

To be brutally honest, there's nothing on either side of his third release "True To You" that's going to excite readers desperate for a bit of mod pop or freakbeat, and the A-side in particular is a rather twee Merseybeat-lite production. The flip "Above and Beyond", on the other hand, is a nice enough skip through sixties beat pop, zinging along at speed, and impossible not to find cheering. You have to wonder if this single would have fared better if the sides had been switched.

All this is speculation, of course, and Quist, along with the otherwise unrelated but equally unfortunate likes of Tommy Quickly, Ted "Kingsize" Taylor, The Undertakers, The Lancastrians and others is now a naggingly familiar name to record collectors and teenagers of the early sixties beat era, but certainly not often heard on oldies radio. His whereabouts these days aren't easy to trace, but it seems safe to assume [citation needed - ed] that once his singing career hit the skids, he returned to dancing and the theatre stage.

14 January 2018

Reupload - Egton Runners - Won't Somebody Play My Record?/ Flip Me

Label: DJM
Year of Release: 1979

[I originally uploaded this entry in February 2010, but a polite reader called William Farthing very unexpectedly contacted me last week asking me to put it on the blog again, as the old mp3 links had expired. This I am now doing, though I have to confess to being slightly bewildered that this was on anyone's list of wanted obscure tunes - though the experiences I've had over the last decade of running this blog should have taught me to never be shocked!]

This particular novelty track may be of minor interest to sixties-heads purely and simply because one of the songwriters responsible, John Carter, was also responsible for a number of oddly shaped psych-pop trinkets. Probably his finest and oddest hour was the lost classic "Laughing Man", released on Spark in 1968, which you can hear over on Spotify

"Won't Somebody Play My Record?", on the other hand, is either a desperate pean from a desperate man or a bit of studio tomfoolery (or both?). It's the sad and sorry tale of a record company plugger desperately trying to get his record played on a record station. If nothing else, the lyrics paint a vivid picture of the narrow options available in the industry at the time, as the plugger's entire efforts revolve around banging on one BBC door and then another. If he tried that now, he'd be booted out of the company offices by lunchtime.

The countrified pop on offer here sadly didn't really get played on the radio, and as a result it joins the long, teetering pile of novelty singles nobody much cared about or picked up on at the time. John Carter gave up on pop music the very same year, and focussed his career on penning advertising jingles instead, writing work for Vauxhall and Rowntree amongst others. Despite this, he apparently still markets his back-catalogue through Sunny Records, including a great deal of unreleased material - here's hoping there's a few more "Laughing Man"s out there in the can.

10 January 2018

Buckley - Let's Have A Little Bit More/ Right Sky

Label: Epic
Year of Release: 1973

So far as I can tell, Buckley were not a proper group as such, but a project managed and produced by Tremeloes veterans Alan Blakley and Len Hawkes. Issuing four singles across three labels (Bell, CBS and Epic) between 1971 and 1973, success was clearly expected, but the Trems magic touch - fading rapidly by the early seventies anyway - failed to pay dividends.

Their fourth and final single "Let's Have A Little Bit More" is regrettably not an early draft of the closing Reeves and Mortimer song from the "Smell Of" series, though it's closer to that than you might suppose, being riddled with innuendo and cheeky music hall banter. It could easily have been a summer novelty smash, but the record buying public were not receptive to its seaside postcard charms.

The flip "Right Sky" is a different kettle of fish, having a similar mood and atmosphere to The Kinks "Big Sky" off "Village Green Preservation Society" (though melodically distant enough that it's probably a huge coincidence). Simple, raw and pleasing, it sounds like the work of a completely different group, and deserves a few more pairs of ears to hear it. 

7 January 2018

Kodiaks - Tell Me Rhonda/ All Because You Wanna See Me Cry

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1969

Kodiaks are a rather mysterious lot. A number of record collectors online have been asking themselves who they were, and only recently drawing conclusions. This, their only single, managed a release on Decca in Britain and Scepter in the USA, leading some to intially speculate that they might have been an American act. However, there was an act called The Kodiaks in the Rotherham area around the same time, and this is almost certainly them.

Apparently fronted by Dave Cardwell on vocals with Howard Hall and Ian Walker on other undisclosed duties, Kodiaks managed to produce a stormer with this, their solitary single. The A-side is a pounding, pleading record with a faintly Eastern feel in places, simmering with frustration and heartache, akin to a Northern Soul disc in places (note - I'm not trying to claim that it ever actually was spun at a Northern Soul night). It's a solidly pop/beat outing, and not quite as psychedelic as others have claimed, but nonetheless it sounds like a potential hit. It's not that surprising that the Americans also took a gamble on releasing it.

The flip side isn't bad either, having the same kind of yearning and urgent drive. What became of the group after this is a mystery, but copies of this aren't chanced upon too often these days. Mine is slightly scuffed, so if you want to hear one in a less loved condition, YouTube is your friend