24 August 2009

Group X - There are Eight Million Cossack Melodies - And This Is One of Them

Group X - There are Eight Million Cossack Melodies and This Is One of Them

Label: Fontana
Year of Release: 1963

The sixties guitar-based instrumental act is seldom looked upon with much fondness or regard. True, there are some Joe Meek productions out there which some like to spin, and few would object to the likes of Dick Dale on their stereo, but there were sheer volumes of twangy-guitar playing, foot shuffling smiling boys (they usually were boys) on the circuit back in the early part of the decade. The NME et al would generally have "Best Instrumental Group" categories in their year end polls, which The Shadows normally won hands down.

Perhaps the spectre of The Shadows and Hank Marvin's perceived naffness eventually did for instrumental acts everywhere, but it's when you come across inventive little ditties like this one that you almost mourn the passing of the genre. Group X were apparently a studio-based affair, but this oddly titled tribute to the Ukraine/ Russian region (I wonder if Peter Solowka out of the Wedding Present was listening?) is everything an instrumental pop record of the period should be - fizzing, buzzing and twanging with so many hooks it earworms its way into your brain immediately. Here seems to be the primary difference between vocal acts and their instrumental cousins of the time - when lyrical phrases were lacking, the melody lines had to have an extra added potency to hit home, and so they frequently did. Once again, this is hyperpop stuff, very very infectious and with little time for subtlety.

"There are Eight Million Cossack Melodies..." wasn't a hit despite (or perhaps because of) its preposterously long title, but the number of online mentions its received on forums recently would suggest that its remembered by many. Group X never did go on to any sort of faceless success, but I'm sure they found other session work to occupy their time.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant! I've been looking for and hoping to come across this little jem for donkeys years - and now I've found it. Thanks a million. I actually bought the single back in th sixties when it was in the charts but of cours it got lost over the years.
Thanks once again.

Roger in Germany.

Anonymous said...

We were all mates in the sixties playing in the Croydon area I think they were called the Mike Leeman Five and went on to become Group X. I have done a cover version of it you can find it on you tube just type in the title of the song. There are eight million cossack melodies and this is one of them. Hope I did ok for them wish I knew where they were now it was good times

23 Daves said...

I actually enjoyed that! Thanks for sharing those memories.

If by any chance you do stumble across them, please do ask one of them to pop by and say hello on this blog.

Anonymous said...

jamie the original group was called martin jay and the hi five and played many gigs all over the uk. they reformed a few years ago probably under a different name. great band in the good old sixties . martin if you read this say hello to me on this blog. jamie retired in thailand .