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



3 January 2018

Dave Carey - Drum Beat/ Come Light Your Fire



Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1962

Let's kick off 2018 with a nice big brassy POW of a record, shall we? Make no mistake, "Drum Beat" by Dave Carey is a real slap around Batman and Robin's chops, waking up individuals with even the worst case of the winter blues. It's filled to the brim with pounding drum beats high in the mix, a faintly cheesy, easy listening vocal style (you can almost hear the winks-to-camera) and a fantastic Wally Stott arrangement. It's such a punchy piece of work that it seems absurd that it wouldn't have been keenly revived by now.

Dave Carey's solo career is only one small segment of his music industry CV. He had been a drummer in Lou Stone's Orchestra in the forties and fifties, before he changed direction and became a vocalist for chart-toppers and multiple NME award winners The Stargazers. That act are widely believed to have released the first ever British rock and roll recording with "She Loves To Rock" in August 1956, even if it didn't particularly shift many copies (try finding either a 45 or 78rpm copy anywhere these days - it's rarer than a bar tender willing to accept fifty pound notes). 

His solo career seemed to consist of three singles, of which this and the previous release "Bingo" are the most interesting. That particular 45 was used as pre-game music in a number of Mecca Bingo Halls in the UK, which still wasn't enough to push it into the charts. I suspect it sold slowly and steadily in the towns and cities which were most exposed to it, however. 

Once the hits dried up, Dave Carey pursued other business interests, opening the "Swing" record shop in Streatham, South London which specialised in blues music, and running Nova Recording Studios. Sadly, he passed away in October 2015, aged ninety.  


30 December 2017

Reupload - Johnny Pearson - Rat Catchers/ Weavers Green


Label: Columbia
Year of Release: 1966


Spy series "The Rat Catchers" was a firm favourite on British television in 1966 and 1967, produced by the Rediffusion television company and broadcasting a total of 25 episodes. A huge part of the reason the series seems to be very rarely referenced now is the fact that the episodes were wiped by over-zealous television executives in the seventies, meaning the series has since been allowed to slip into an undignified obscurity.  A brief clip recently materialised on YouTube and apparently there are two full recovered episodes out there, but that seems to be our lot.

Johnny Pearson's dramatic theme tune - all thundering piano lines, dramatic strings and hushed segements - was perhaps a contributory factor to the programme's success in itself, and was popular enough with the public for EMI to release it as a single. Whilst it failed to chart, it picked up enough admirers in the seventies to be considered worthy of spins at some Northern Soul nights. Once again, if you can hear what exactly is Northern Soul about this track you have a better pair of ears than me, but I would guess that the pounding piano lines filled the vast, cavernous rooms easily.

Resting on the flip side is the theme to another largely forgotten series "Weavers Green", a countryside soap opera produced by Anglia Television. Axed after a mere 49 shows, it remains a British soap forever to be mentioned in the same breath as "Triangle" or "Eldorado" as something which didn't last the distance, although rumours persist that Anglia's lack of clout as a television company at this time had more to do with its failings than the quality of the show itself. The theme tune itself is pleasant and chipper, but ultimately inessential.

Johnny Pearson enjoyed a long career in music prior to his death in March 2011, leading the Top of the Pops orchestra for sixteen years and producing endless soundtracks for programmes (including the theme from "3-2-1") and adverts. One of his pieces of library music, "Autumn Reverie", was even adapted by The Carpenters to become the song "Heather", Richard Carpenter having been obsessed by the track after hearing it on a television advert. Tracks of Pearson's turn up with enormous regularity in the "Library Music" section of most second hand record stores, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he puts in another appearance on this blog at some point.