Who: Ray Morgan
What: The Long and Winding Road (B/W "Sweetest Wine")
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
It's a well known fact that Paul McCartney despised Phil Spector's reworking of this track ("Paul McCartney has a bug up his ass, and he's mistaken me for a man who gives a shit!" snarled a clearly sore Spector on the topic recently). Perhaps this particular version was more what he had in mind - he certainly doesn't appear to have gone on record saying anything negative about it.
The trouble is, nobody actually appears to have said anything about it anywhere. Despite the fact that this single hovered around the 30-40 region of the chart for a few weeks in 1970, peaking at number 32, finding any commentary on the single at all, or any information about who Ray Morgan was and what he did next, seems almost impossible. It's once again solid proof that most artists who attempted to launch their careers with a cover of a contemporary Beatles track were generally never heard from again. The fact that The Beatles didn't issue the track as a single themselves in the UK clearly left a gap in the market, but it's impossible to envy Morgan's role in plugging it.
Another issue here is the fact that the single perhaps isn't the greatest version of the track there's even been, sounding slightly rushed, awkward and thin in places, to the extent that you have to wonder if Ray and his cohorts were racing against a stopwatch to finish the song in the time it takes to boil an egg. From the idly plucked guitar intro to Ray's rather supper club sounding vocals, its a bit lacking in conviction or passion. When you're left with the overwhelming impression that the entire orchestra and all the vocalists were grinning from ear to ear as they performed it, something's a bit wrong - the track deserves more melodrama than that, surely? Spector's arrangements may have been "chocolate box" according to some, but they were still more appropriate than this.
The B-side "The Sweetest Wine" is a bit better and skips along agreeably enough, also suiting Ray's voice much more, but I doubt any of you will be rushing to stick it on your iPod's shuffle function during morning commutes.
This single was originally priced up at five pounds when I first saw it in the Music and Video Exchange, then steadily fell in value until it hit the price of a chocolate bar. I remain pleased with my decision not to buy it at full price.