27 May 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 34 - Ray Morgan - The Long and Winding Road

Ray Morgan - Long and Winding Road

Who: Ray Morgan
What: The Long and Winding Road (B/W "Sweetest Wine")
Label: B&C
When: 1970
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Cost: 50p

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.


Lorenzo said...

Rubbish it as much as you like, I don't care. This is my favourite version of this song. Vaguely remember Ray miming this on 'Top of the Pops', he had the look of a Dutch porn star about him. Good voice though.

Anonymous said...

Hi David, Is there any chance of a re-upload of this 1970 chart single? I have been searching for this for decades and was thrilled to locate it on your blog only to find the link had expired; this holds many bitter-sweet memories. Thanks, Mark

23 Daves said...

Job done!

Anonymous said...

Hi David, Sorry about the delay in replying (only just spotted the re-upload), but I want to thank you so much for uploading this single for me. I really appreciate your time and effort!
All the best, Mark

Anonymous said...

Blogs entries like this fascinate me... who the hell was this guy? He is non existent on Wikipedia and badly needs an article written.

Anonymous said...

He was a brilliant Cabernet singer who had a great voice and a wonderful personality, he was in his late 40s early 50s in the early 1970s so he has probably passed on by know

Anonymous said...

Sorry my message should have said Cabaret, although the reference to wine is quite apt.

Reetpetite said...

I knew Ray very well in the late ‘70s we worked in the same Pub in the Old Kent Road. He was a very charismatic man with a wonderful voice and a brilliant personality. He appreared on New Faces and one of the panel commented that he looked more like an unmade bed than a new face, RUDE, but I suppose as Ray was in his late 40s early 50s they had a point, but they should have judged him on his voice not his ‘rugged’ look. I still have a cassettes tape he made me back in the day it has some brilliant songs on it including No More Tears which he used to sing for me when he did his set on a Friday night. Such a shame his career was mainly pubs and gents Cabaret shows in out of the way hotels, he coulda been a contender! As the previous person said he may well have passed away by now wished I knew.